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E R I C A N 


r rK 

i E S 




No. 12 


Reprint 1970 




SERIES incorporates the 
basic information on each 
of the 21 member states of 
the Organization of Ameri- 
can States formerly pre- 
sented in two separate 
series: the American Na- 
tions and Travel in the 
Americas Series, both of 
which will be superseded 
by the new series upon its 

This series Is prepared under the 
direction of Lyn S. Manduley, 
Chief Publications Editor, Edi- 
torial Division, Department of 
Public Information, Pan American 
Union, Washington, D.C. 

Photo Credits: 

Ambassador Philippe Cantave: p. 
7, 10, 11, 35, 45; Centre d'Art, 
Port-au-Prince: p. 28; Hamilton 
Wright: p. 14, 27; IIAA: p. 37, 
38, 43; Max hlunn: p. 24; Pierre 
Verger & Alfred Metraux: p. 9, 
39; Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM): 
p. 6; Tourist Bureau, Haiti: p. 
2g. 42. 

TF- E L I P ^ ^. R^ 
Bouthv Texas Staie Univ« 
- '1 W-ircos, Texas 

A typical beach scene 


Haltl'i flnl, Qreatest, and most enthusiastic foreign 
Vlllloi will III cJiicoverer, Christopher Columbus. Cross- 
ImU Ilia Windward Passage after discovering Cuba, the 
iMlrapId admiral sighted another large island and on 
Docnmbor 6, 1492— the feast day of St. Nicholas- 
anchored the Sanfa Maria in a fine harbor on its 
WMtern tip, which he named in honor of the Saint. 
Skirting the coast, he landed some days later on what 
ti now Haitian soil, raised a large cross, planted the 
itandard of Castile and Leon, and took possession of 
the island in the name of the Spanish sovereigns 
Ferdinand and Isabella. Columbus named the island 
La Isia Espafiola (the Spanish Island), later to be 
known by its Latinized name Hispaniola. 

Although disappointed that Hispaniola did not prove to 
be Japan or India, as he had anticipated, Columbus 
quickly succumbed to the beauty of the island and 
the friendliness of its Indian population. The natives 
who welcomed him with gifts of food, tobacco, and 
gold were of Arawak stock. They called themselves 
Tainos (the Good People) and their island Hayti (the 
Mountainous Country). Columbus described them as 
"gentle beings, hospitable . . . curious and merry, 
walking in beauty, and possessors of a spiritual re- 
ligion." To Ferdinand and Isabella, he wrote ". . . 
In all the world I do not believe there is a better people 
or II better land." Thus in history and literature, His- 
paniola is often called "the land Columbus loved." 

When Christmas Day dawned, the Santa Maria lay 
wrecked on one of the treacherous coral reefs at the 
flntrance to Acul Bay; but Columbus, undaunted, 
founded the first settlement in the New World on De- 
(nmber 25, 1492, in the vicinity of what is now Cap- 
Haitien and named it La Villa de la Navidad, or Town 
af iho Nativity. Thus the loss of the Santa Marfa paved 
tlt» way for the founding of America's first colony, 
", , . because it is certain," wrote Columbus in his 
(H/riuil, "that if I had not run aground here, I should 
iav« ktipt out to sea without anchoring at this place 
I ■ , nolthor would 1 have left people here on this 


Ili<»« b«gan the hlitory of Haiti and of the New World, 

itself, on Hispaniola, the "Cradle of the Americas." 
The virgin colony of Navidad— founded by Columbus 
with 42 settlers and a fort built with salvage from the 
Sanfa Mar/a— did not survive. On his return a year 
later, Columbus found the fortress in ruins and the 
colonists slain. 

The first settlement to endure permanently was Santo 
Domingo, founded in the eastern portion of Hispaniola 
in 1496 by Columbus' brother Bartholomew. After ex- 
periencing many changes in name, this ancient city is 
once again called Santo Domingo and is the capital of 
the Dominican Republic, which occupies the eastern 
two-thirds of the island. 

During its long and turbulent history— first as a colony 
of Spain and then of France— Haiti gained the distinc- 
tion of being the first Latin American country to achieve 
its independence and, likewise, the world's first Negro 
republic. It is the only American republic in which 
French is the official language. 

Second smallest of the American republics, Haiti occu- 
pies an area of 10,714 square miles, about the size of 
New Jersey. The waters of the Atlantic bathe the 
country's northern coast, and the Caribbean Sea, its 
southern shore. Two mountainous peninsulas stretch 
westward like a giant pair of tongs, partially enclosing 
the Gulf of Gonave. Across the Windward Passage, 
some fifty miles to the northwest, lies Cuba. Miami is 
only 900 miles distant. 

The landscape of this tropical, sun-drenched country 
faithfully portrays a favorite Haitian proverb: "Beyond 
the mountains are more mountains." Pocketed in the 
jumbled mass of mountains are fertile plains and deep 
valleys, their slopes patch-quilted by hundreds of little 
farms. Coffee plantations spread over the moist foot- 
hills, and the lowlands are green with seas of sugar 
cane. Vivid hibiscus, poinsettias, begonias, and fuchsia 
accent the landscape. 

Roughly 80 per cent of Haiti's topography is mountain- 
ous. Dominating the landscape are three mountain 
ranges, the principal one being the Cordillera Central 
or Cibao Mountains, which extend through the northern 



Panorama of Port-au-Prince 

peninsula. In this range the mountains rise 8,000 to 
9,000 feet above sea level. The extensive Central 
Plateau lies directly south. The southern range consists 
of two main mountain groups: La Selle in the south- 
eastern region and La Hotte, v^hich forms the backbone 
of Haiti's southern peninsula. A deep geological de- 
pression knov^'n as the Cul de Sac lies betv/een the 
southern and central ranges, extending from the 
Haitian capital Port-au-Prince into the Dominican Re- 
public. This semiarid lowland contains several lakes, 
including the country's largest one Etang Saumatre. 

North of the Central Cordillera, between the moun 
tains and the sea, lies the Plaine du Nord; and extend- 
ing eastward from the Gulf of Gonave into the moun 
tains is the wedge-shaped Artibonite Lowland. 

Most of Haiti's numerous rivers are short, rapid stroami 
that flow down the mountain slopes to the sea, with 
the exception of the Artibonite, the country's longoil 
river, which flows through the rich agricultural valley of 
the same name and supplies water for irrigating rico, 
sugar cane, and other crops. 

Haiti's location, varied topography, and rainfall account 
for the wide range of climatic conditions and vegeta- 
tion. In general, temperatures are high in the coastal 
areas, particularly in Port-au-Prince in August, and 
become progressively cooler as the elevation in the 
mountainous region increases. The annual average 
temperature is 81° F. in the western portion of the 
country and 76° F. in the elevated interior. Sea 
breezes temper the heat, but also increase the aridity 
in areas of light rainfall and rapid evaporation, par- 
ticularly in the Cul de Sac and Artibonite Valley. 

In addition to its profusion of beautiful flowers, palms, 
and plants, Haiti has a wealth of timber in the forested 
mountains, including mahogany, pine, and logwood. 
Coffee and cacao thrive in the moist foothills; bananas 
are raised on the irrigated plains, and cotton on the 
semi-arid plateaus. Rainfall, which is highly variable 
in different regions of the country, normally comes in 
two seasons: April through June, and October throuuh 


In 1749, when France's colony of Saint-DomlnQuo was 
fast becoming one of the richest colonial posimssions 
in the world, the city which is now capital of ll»«( Haitian 
Republic was founded by M. de la Cazv, who named it 
I'Hopital. After being renamed several times, the city's 
present name— taken, it is believ<!d, from that of a 
French ship (Le Prince) which anchored in the harbor 
around 1700— was permanently restored. 

Many travelers are reminded of the Bay of Naples or 
the French Riviera as they approach the Haitian capital 

Port-au-Prince Stadium 

from the west. Silhouetted against a crescent of 
wooded mountains, the shining white city faces the 
•marald cobalt Gulf of Gonave, partially enclosed 
I'V tli.1 two great peninsulas-one reaching westward 
iMwnrd Cuba, and the other toward Jamaica. Guarding 
tit" riMlionce to the harbor is the lovely wooded island 
<il (i()ti6ve. 

Hut city is laid out in the form of an irregular tri- 
• inglo, with its northern apex at the end of the luxuri- 
MMl Cul do-Sac plain. Facing west along the waterfront 
ll Ihfi older section, given over to shipping and com- activity, and adjoining it are the beautiful 
Uii'uiiiU of the Bi-Centennial Exposition. The eastern 
mid iinrthoastern residential sections spread over the 
(uMlhllU of Gros Morne. To the southwest, another 
(iiililonlkil joction climbs upward from the bay over 
lilt irvvpcr llopes of Morne I'Hopito!. 

tluMN leiiulmarki stand out above the canopy of green 
»•«-« whlcli ihoda the tin roofs typical of the city: the 

spired white basilica of Notre Dame, the imposing 
National Palace, and the Iron Market with its four 
Moorish-style turrets. The large square. Place des 
Heros de independence (formerly Champs-de-Mars), 
is the center of civic, cultural, and social life in the 
capital. In this area are the National Palace, the 
Dessalines Barracks, the Palaces of Finance and Justice, 
the Police Headquarters, the General Hospital, the 
Museum of Ethnology, the Port-au-Princien Club, the 
Rex Theatre, and several hotels. 

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the independence 
of Haiti, four new statues of her heroes-Toussaint, 
Dessalines, Christophe, and Petion— were placed in the 
park in 1954, overlooking the spacious lawns and 
promenades where Port-au-Princiens stroll in the even- 
ing or congregate to listen to band concerts. In this 
same park, in 1848, the coronation of Soulouque as 
Emperor Faustin I took place. 

Adjacent to the Place des Heros is another square 

named for Toussaint Louverture, in honor of the noble 
figure who was the precursor of Haitian independence. 
On the west side of the National Palace, set amid 
beautiful gardens of tropical flowers, is the mausoleum 
in which rest the remains of the two men who forged 
the nation: Alexandre Sabes Petion and Jean Jacques 
Desso lines. 

Two earthquakes and a score of devastating fires have 
left little of the original French colonial city. As in 
many other tropical cities, especially in those having 
a large low-income population like Port-au-Prince, there 
are flimsy structures which contrast with the handsome 
public buildings and fine residences of upper-class 
Haitians. Although the present trend is toward modern 
design, the prevailing architectural style is French. The 
most notable examples are the National Palace and the 
Palace of Justice. The former is a reptica of the Petit 
Palais on the Champs Elysees and is the Haitian 
"White House" (open to the public). Its sweeping 
marble staircase leads to spacious salons hung with 
8 tapestries and to the hall containing the busts of all 
former presidents of the republic. Another impressive 
public building, and one of the oldest, is the Palace of 
the Ministries. 

The Cathedral of Notre Dame, completed during the 
present century, contrasts with the old French colonial 
cathedral, dating from 1720, which stands beside it 
on Rue des Fronts Forts. The Iron Market (on Grand 
Rue, north of the cathedral) was so-named because if 
was constructed entirely of sheet iron in the style of 
French markets. The musical patois punctuated with 
lively bickering, gay laughter, and the crowing of 
roosters fills this vast emporium, which occupies two 
square blocks near the water front. Spread before 
you is the varied produce of the fertile Cul-de-Sac 
plain. Even more tempting to tourists is the array of 
native handicrafts. 

A gay and charming corner of the city is the Place de 
Sainte-Anne, located in one of the oldest quarters of 
the capital, west of the Place des Heros. The quaint 
church of Sainte-Anne faces the flower-filled square. 
Several blocks north of the square, on Rue du Centre, is 
the Biblioteque National (National Library). Place 

Geffrard, near the water front, is the heart of the 
business section. Facing the bay is Pare d'ltalie, 
flanked by the Custom House, Municipal Palace, and 
the old French quay constructed in 1780. 

In Preparation for Haiti's International Exposition, held 
in 1949, some sixty acres of land along the water front 
were improved and beautifully landscaped. Attractive 
buildings and pavilions, designed by New York and 
Haitian architects, constitute a permanent civic center. 

The cultural life of the capital centers around the 
University of Haiti and several outstanding art centers 
and theaters. The Centre d'Art provides Haitians from 
all walks of life with an opportunity to express their 
talents in the folk arts, sculpture, and painting. Here 
and at the newer art center. Foyer des Arts Plastiques, 
one may see interesting examples of contemporary 
Haitian art. The Theatre de Verdure is one of the 
capital's outstanding attractions. In this modern open- 
air theater, dancers and drummers from all over Haiti 
perform regularly. Their repertoire includes the best 
Haitian folklore. The Theatre also produces plays in 
French and Creole and presents visiting artists. 

Upper-class Haitians and foreign residents live com- 
fortably, often luxuriously, in delightful French villas or 
modernistic homes, surrounded by the lush tropical 
verdure of the hills above the city. The Montjolie sec- 
tion is favored by United States residents, as well as 
the suburb of Petionville. The National Museum, located 
at Montjolie, contains one of the most highly-prized 
historic relics in the New World— the tall iron anchor 
of Columbus' flagship Santa Maria. Other treasures on 
display in the Museum are the swords of Dessolines, the 
diamond crown of Faustin I, and the portraits of 
Christophe (King Henry I) and Toussaint Louverture. 
Social life, apart from private entertaining at home, 
centers in a number of private clubs including the 
Cercle Bellevue and Club Port-ou-Princien, both ex- 
clusive Haitian clubs, and iho PAtionvillo Club, which 
has a large momborship among Uiiilod States resi- 
dents. The American Club, on iho road to Petionville, 
has a swimming pool, tonnli courli, and a golf course. 
For dining, doiiclng, and nnterfainment there ore- 

A vievr of 
from the suburbs 

A luminous musical fountain on the 
Bicentennial Exposition grounds 

numerous night clubs, such as the Casino Internationale 
and Petionville's unique Cabane Choucoune. 

In addition to tennis, swimming, and golf, there are two 
very popular spectator sports— soccer and coclcfighting. 
Soccer matches are played in Leconte Park. Cockfights 
1 take place regularly on Saturdays and Sundays in the 
gaguere (cockpit) in the Exposition Park, but the most 
spirited ones are to be seen in rural areas outside the 
capital. Spearfishing enthusiasts may arrange to take 
trips in a glass-bottomed boat and observation goggles 
are provided for viewing the exotic submarine gardens. 

Although most of the hotels in and near Port-au-Prince 
are small, they offer a wide choice of superb scenery 
and atmosphere, in the cool, hilly suburbs of the city 
are the quaint Hotel Oloffson, the Splendid— once the 
private estate of a wealthy sugar planter— and the 
newer modern Castelhaiti. Fronting on the sparkling 
bay of Gonave are the Hotel Riviera, the Beau Rivage, 
the Simbi, and the International Club, among others; 
the last-named provides luxurious hotel accommoda- 
tions and cottages on its 42 acres of tropical grounds 
located on the coastal road. All are a short drive 
from the center of the capital. 

The Southeastern Highlands 

Within a radius of 60 miles southeast of the capital, the 
Haitian highlands rise to an altitude of roughly 7,000 
feet above sea level. This is an area of spectacular 
scenic beauty, magnificent panoramic views, and exotic 

The Southeastern Highlands 

flora and fauna. In a Itliurtly one-day trip by car, one 
may visit the delightful raiidontial and resort area 
which takes in tho suburb of PAtionville, the valley so 
appropriately named Canapi-Verte, and the mountain 
resorts of La Boule, Kenscoff, and Furcy. 

Driving up the winding road to P6tionvIlle, you will 
see thatch-roofed native cailles tucked into the hill- 
sides, with mango and papaya trees clustered about 
them. Patches of scarlet poinsettias, growing wild, line 
the roadside; they are at their best from October to 
February. Above the galaxy of palms, tamarind, juni- 
per and breadfruit trees, towers the majestic flam- 
boyant, tall as an oak and ablaze with crimson blos- 
soms. Known also as the poinciana, it is a superb sight 
in June. A French poet, struck by Petionville's rare 
geographical setting, described it as "the town at the 
foot of the mountains, with its head crowned with 
flowers like a lovely, coquettish maiden who dreams 
of love by the side of the high road." 

Named for the founder of the republic, Petionville has 
long been the favorite suburb of aristocratic Haitians, 
diplomats, and foreign residents who prefer to live out- 
side the capital in luxurious mansions or less pretentious 
homes of modern design. Tho sumptuous estate Manoir 
des Lauriers is one of the show places of the town. On 
the main square are located the night club Cabane 
Choucoune {choucoune being the word for a typical 
Haitian belle) and a luxurious hotel of the same name. 
As the country's most famous night club, the Cabane 
Choucoune is a favorite Saturday-night rendezvous of 
Port-au-Prince society. De luxe hotels and inns, many 
with swimming pools— such as El Rancho, Montana, and 
Ibo L616— command a sweeping view of the capital, the 
Bay of Gonave, and the mountains to the east and 
south. This view is unsurpassed at the restaurant "Le 
Perchoir" in Boutilliers, at an altitude of about 3,000 
feet and a fifteen minutes' drive from Petionville. 

Higher by 2,000 feet is the fashionable year-round 
resort KenscofF. Deep pine forests add variety to the 
landscape of this natural health resort. The ruins of old 
forts are remainders of past battles. Beyond Kenscoff 
is Furcy, another popular resort, at 6,000 feet above 

■•a l«v«l, To the east rises the cloud-flecked range of 
La SeJIe; below are the cool wooded mountains; and to 
the louth llei the placid Caribbean. 

A trip by car from Port-au-Prince across the Cul-de-Sac 
plain to Lake Etang Saumatre and Haiti's famous Pine 
Forest introduces foreign visitors to a region of great 
economic importance and contrasting scenery. Ever 
since the days of the Spanish and French planters, the 
Cul-de-Sac has been one of the richest agricultural 
regions of the country. Here, in the colonial era, slavery 
had its sinister beginnings and reached barbaric ex- 
cesses. Today, it is hard to realize that this benign, 
productive countryside was ravaged and despoiled, 
both by the slaves and their masters, in the struggle 
for human freedom precipitated by the French Revo- 
lution. The vast estates on which French planters lived 
In splendor disappeared with the end of French colonial 
rule and, due to President Petion's policy of liberal 
land grants, Haiti became a country of thousands of 
imall farms. 

The tall towers of Haiti's largest sugar refinery rise 
above a sea of green cane fields in the district of 
Chancerelle. The village of Damien is important as the 
teat of the National Agricultural School, one of the 
most important institutions in shaping the country's 
agricultural economy. Its grounds are like a vast 
MiUinical garden, filled with fascinating tropical plants. 

i|..ii reaching the town of Croix-des-Bouquets, on the 
Hv 1 of the same name, you are in the heart of the 

m i<iin rimmed Cul-de-Sac plain. Long an important 

mill 1 htu) center for cotton, sugar, indigo, and coffee, 

I I ■• Bouquets was also a strategic point during 

till iiu,|,|lo for independence and headquarters of the 
iiMM((i(/Ni (freedmen). Here the signal was given for 
lliM itptlsiivg of the slaves of the southern peninsula. 

Ai !• il I'urisien the road divides, the left fork follow- 
liiu ilu ..lulhern shore of Lake Etang Saumatre situated 
III 1 |..,,.i|y inhabited, arid region. This lake, be- 
ll*., ...I I.I liuvu risen from the sea because of the shells 
HM»i mrul on its beaches, covers an area of about 40 
l^^tiMtii mllei. Its brackish waters support fish, ducks, 
M(|i»t<i ftnrl crocodiles. 

The Foret des Pins (Pine Forest) is reached by taking the 
southern fork of the road from Fond Parisien. Between 
the desert and the forest lies the exuberant valley of 
Fond Verettes. Its lush vegetation harbors a rare and 
tiny songbird, the musiden, famed for its three flute-like 
notes. Soon the road begins to climb the mountain 
range of Morne des Commissaires, where Haiti's highest 
peak Morne de la Selle rises 8,793 feet high. The 
landscape and climate change as one approaches the 
Pine Forest, said to be the most beautiful one in the 
Caribbean area. Located at an altitude of approxi- 
mately 7,000 feet above sea level, this virgin forest 

Twill spires of the Cathedral of Port-au-Prince 

Partial view ol Pert-au-Prince Harbor 

The Southern Peniniula 

The Heart of Haiti 

spreads over an area of 150,000 acres. Giant tree 
ferns, wild strawberries, and cherry and mahogany 
trees are found among the pines. Flocks of green 
parrots flash through this vast unspoiled woodland. 

The Southern Peninsula 

Haiti flings her rugged southern arm westward 150 
miles from Port-au-Prince into the Caribbean toward 
Jamaica. Off the beaten track of tourism, the southern 
peninsula abounds in unspoiled natural beauty, as 
well as historic associations. The principal cities on the 
northern coast, facing the Gulf of Gonave, are 
Leogane, Petit-Goave, Miragoane, and Jeremie. On the 
Caribbean side are the ports Jacmel and Les Cayes. 
The South Peninsula Highway runs from the capital to 
Miragoane and branch roads cross the peninsula to the 
Caribbean ports. 

If the road from the capital to Jacmel is in good condi- 
tion, a trip by car (60 miles) is an interesting experi- 
ence. It takes one through the sun-drenched Leogane 
plain, one of Haiti's most important sugar-producing 
regions, to the Caribbean. Leogane, on the Gulf of 
Gonave, is the principal city and port of the sugar- 
growing section. It was built on the site of the ancient 
Indian village of Yaguana, where, according to legend, 
the beloved Indian Queen Anacaona ruled the domain 
of her husband, Caonabo, after he had been sent in 
irons to Spain for having united his people against the 
Spanish invaders. The famous grotto named for her 
may be visited by making an hour's trip on horseback 
to a spot of wild virgin beauty outside the town. 

The historic port of Jacmel is dramatically situated in 
an amphitheatre of mountains which rise from a 
horseshoe bay of the Caribbean. Long ago, this port 
was a rendezvous for buccaneers, and was seized and 
held by Spanish and British forces at different times. 
In 1806, its citizens gave hospitality and aid to Fran- 
cisco de Miranda— the great Venezuelan who was a 
precursor of the independence movement in South 
America. Perhaps the most beautiful of the white-sand 
beaches, fringed with graceful cocoanut palms, is the 
one of Carrefour Raymond, 10 miles from Jacmel. Off 
the beaten path are the exquisite Blue Lakes (les 

Bassins Bleus), cradled in nearby mountain glens over- 
hung with giant bayahondes, gum trees, and acacias. 

According to an old Creole legend the Blue Lakes are 
peopled by water nymphs, and tales are told of the 
goddess of the waters, in the form of a lovely dusky 
maiden, who sits on a famous rock beside the Palm 
Lake combing her long golden tresses by the light of 
the moon. At the approach of indiscreet mortals, she 
slips into the water and disappears; and, it is said, any- 
one lucky enough to discover her comb will instantly 
become rich. Bassin Palmiste takes its name from 
gigantic palms which surround it, and in which myriads 
of birds called oiseaux palmistes have their nests. 
The port city of Les Cayes, also on the Caribbean, 
is capital of the Department of the South and third 
city of the country. One can still see the ancient 
arsenal on the Place Royale and several forts along the 
sea wall, which defended the port from many attacks. 
In 1815, Simon Bolfvar and other Venezuelan exiles 
were given a hearty welcome at this port. President 
Petion generously aided the cause of South American 
independence by providing General Bolivar with arms 
and provisions, with the assurance that the latter would 
abolish slavery in all the provinces he might liberate. 
After freeing Venezuela, Bolfvar sent President Petion 
his beautiful gold sword as a token of his gratitude. 
From Les Cayes a mountain road crosses the peninsula 
to Jeremie. En route is the popular summer resort 
Camp Perrin, known for its delightful climate; it is the 
point from which to visit (by horseback) Haiti's most 
beautiful waterfall Source Mathurin. Jeremie, founded 
in 1756, is called the "City of Poets" and is famed as 
the birthplace of Alexandre Davy Dumas, father of the 
great French novelist and dramatist. The city climbs 
upward from the sea in a mountainous amphitheatre. 
Large shipments of coffee, cacao, and logwood are 
exported from the Basse Ville (Lower City). The Haute 
Ville (Upper City) is picturesque with its quaint houses 
painted pastel pink and green. 

The Heart of Haiti 

Between Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien on the Atlantic, 
the mountain ranges enclose the three principal 


valleys that contain the bulk of the Haitian population 
and produce the major food and export crops: the 
Cul-de-Sac, the Artibonite, and the Cibao valleys. The 
principal cities, Mirebelais, Hinche, and Dondon, are 
located on a partially all-weather road (bad in the 
rainy season) connecting the capital with Cap-HaVtien, 
a distance of about 175 miles. 

Mirebelais, 35 miles from the capital, is interesting as 
the locale of the fascinating ethnological study of 
peasant life made by Professor Melville J. Herskovits 
and described in his book Life in a Haitian Valley. 
South of Mirebelais, on a branch road, is the town 
of Saut d'Eau, scene of a great religious festival held 
annually on July 15 to honor the Virgin of the Palms. 
This event, a moving manifestation of Catholicism com- 
bined with voodoo rites, takes place at three sacred 
spots: St. John, En Bas Palmes, and the waterfall of 
Saut d'Eau. 

The town of Lascahobas lies in a fertile agricul- 
14 tural region, surrounded by coffee plantations and 
mahogany forests. To the 'north is the Central Plateau, 
consisting largely of savannas covered with grass. 
Cattle-raising is the chief activity in this region and the 
city of Hinche is the center of the cattle industry. Of 
special interest to visitors are the caves of the Zinc 
Basin (Grottes du Bassin Zim), reached by a short drive 
from the city. In these ancient caves one can still see 
curious Indian pictographs antedating Columbus' dis- 
covery of Hispaniola. The Bassin Zim waterfall, one of 
the most beautiful in Haiti, pours its waters into a deep 
pool said to be bottomless. 

Beyond the Central Plateau, the road passes through 
an important coffee and banana region to the moun- 
tain town of Dondon, famous for its vast system of 
caves, the Grottes du Dondon. One of the most in- 
teresting is the Voute d Minguet, named for a French 
naturalist, but from pre-Columbian times the sacred 
cave of Haiti. Here in a vast cathedral-like sanctuary 
the chieftains met for the celebration of the autumn 
equinoxl According to legend, the first man, Louquo, 
appeared from a great natural chimney at one end, 
after falling from heaven. In like manner, according 

A small resort in the highlands 

to ancient beliefs, the Sun and the Moon came forth 
to illuminate the world. Another famous cave (in 
Dondon itself) is the Voute des Dames (Ladies' Vault), 
so called because of two stalagmites which suggest 
feminine forms. 

Farther north in the mountains is Grande-Riviere-du- 
Nord, birthplace of the national hero Jean Jacques 
Dessalines and of the martyr Chavannes. This town 
early became the center of the independence move- 
ment. A side road goes to Milot, where famed Sans- 
Souci Palace is located. 

Cap -Haiti en 



Northtrn Haiti and Cap-Hartien, in particular, present 
on Inttrtlting contrast to the South in historical asso- 
ciations, cultural heritage, and impressive landmarks 
of the most dramatic and tragic periods of Haitian 
history. Cap-HaTtien (called simply Le Cap by local 
residents) is the principal city of the north and the 
country's second in size and commercial importance. 

Today's travelers, v/ho arrive at Cap-Haitien by ship or 
plane over the Atlantic, view the same magnificent 
panorama of ocean, mountains, and plains that Colum- 
bus so eloquently described in these words from his 
diary: "the high and rocky mountains on either side 
of the harbor rose from among noble forests and 
swept down into luxuriant plains and cultivated fields, 
and the rich and smiling valley between the two moun- 
tains ran far into the interior." You may follow Colum- 
bus' course in the Sanfa Maria past Point Picolet, 
which guards the entrance to Cap-HaTtien's harbor, as 
he prepared to spend his first Christmas in the New 
World. On the fringe of coral reefs, where you can 
see the waves breaking, the Santa Maria met her fate 
on Christmas Eve. Her anchor was discovered later on 
the banks of the Grande-Riviere-du-Nord, which flows 
into the bay at Sable Point. 

On the sandy beach which stretches from Sable Point 
to the tiny fishing village of Bord-de-Mer, Columbus 
established the first white settlement in America. 
Although there is no marker to designate the exact 
location of Fort Nativity, it has been placed within 
half-a-mile of the Church of Saint Philomena in Bord- 
de-Mer, according to the eminent authority Dr. Samuel 
Eliot Morison, who in 1939 followed Columbus' course 
along Haiti's Atlantic coastline. 

During the early seventeenth century the turtle-shaped 
island, named Tortuga by Columbus, became the refuge 
and rendezvous of adventurers and pirates. From this 
island, which the French called He de la Tortue, a 
group of French buccaneers came to the mainland of 
Hispaniola and founded Cap Francois (later to be 
re-named Cap-Haltien) in 1670. By the middle of the 
eighteenth century, Le Cap had become France's 

wealthiest colonial capital and Sainf-Domingue was 
counted the richest colonial possession in the world. 
The exuberantly productive Plaine-du-Nord and the 
Artibonite Valley supplied half of Europe with sugar 
and cocoa. On their vast plantations of cotton, indigo, 
sugar, cacao, and cofFee, cultivated by countless slaves, 
French Creole planters lived like kings. Their display 
of wealth on sojourns in Paris gave rise to the expres- 
sion "as rich as a Creole." 

Then came the French Revolution. Overnight the "Paris 
of the Antilles" became a stage alike for heroic events 
and for barbaric excesses in the struggle for human 
liberty. The old French fountain, which still stands in 
the Place d'Armes, was a silent witness to the execution 
of Haiti's first martyrs: the mulatto Lacombe, hanged 
for daring to present a petition claiming the "Rights 
of Man" for his countrymen; Oge and Chavannes, 
barbarously put to death for demanding the political 
rights of the affranchis. 

One stormy night, in the forest of Bois Caiman outside 
Le Cap, three Negro leaders met in 1791 to plan the 
rebellion of the slaves, taking the "oath of blood." A 
week later, to the ominous beat of native drums, their 
followers descended from the mountains and swept 
through the Plaine-du-Nord with fire and sword, aveng- 
ing the deaths of Oge and Chavannes and of untold 
numbers of slaves during three agonizing centuries of 
bondage. In a week's time they had reduced the 
luxuriant plain to one vast cemetery and had destroyed 
600 coffee plantations, 200 sugar refineries, and the 
fine mansions of their owners. Merciless retaliation was 
meted out to rebels and non-rebels alike by the French. 

A decade later Toussaint Louverture, who was born a 
slave on the Breda plantation near Le Cap, became 
Governor General of the colony for life. Napoleon 
Bonaparte, determined to crush the man who had dared 
usurp France's prerogatives, sent to Le Cap the greatest 
military and naval expedition that had ever crossed the 
Atlantic. It was commanded by Napoleon's brother- 
in-law General Leclerc, who brought his wife Pauline 
and 45,000 of France's seasoned troops. In February 
1802, while General Leclerc prepared to besiege Le 


Sans-Souci Palace and the Citadelle 

Cap, Henri Christophe burned the city. Only 59 
buildings survived the conflagration. But the French 
gained control of Le Cap and much of the colony, 
restored slavery, and abducted Toussoint, v/ho died in 
France. This united the Haitians irrevocably against 
France, whose forces were being slowly decimated by 
yellow fever, to which General Leclerc succumbed. 

Le Cap was France's last stronghold to capitulate to 
the Haitians (November 1803). Among the reminders 
of this incredible period of death and destruction are 
the ruins of an old French fort on Point Picolet and the 
remains of Pauline Leclerc's sumptuous palace where, in 
a regal Louis XV setting. Napoleon's beautiful and 
flirtatious sister held lavish court while France was 
losing its richest colony and the lives of 40,000 French- 
men. The name of the city was changed from Cap 
Francois to Cap-Hoitien by its liberator Jean Jacques 
Dessalines, after he proclaimed the independence of 
French Saint-Domingue. 

1 O But Le Cap's days of pomp and splendor were not over. 
Here Dessalines was crowned first Emperor of Haiti in 
1804, and seven years later in a far more dazzling 
ceremony, Henri Christophe had himself proclaimed 
King Henri I. He changed the name of the city to 
Cap Henri, created a fantastic nobility, and hastened 
the completion of San-Souci Palace and the Citadelle. 

Haiti's most historic city has long since lapsed into a 
pleasant, placid tempo, as if still resting from its turbu- 
lent past. Pastel-tinted houses, quaint with their bal- 
conies and ginger-bread trimmings, bask in the warm 
sun and salt breezes. Dating from the colonial period 
are the Centennial Cathedral, the Justinien Hospital, 
and several old French fountains. Along Le Cap's 
picturesque waterfront freighters load coffee and sisal 
at the modern wharfs, 

Sans-Souci Palace and the Citadelle 

King Henri Christophe, who inspired Eugene O'Neil's 
Emperor Jones, left the Haitian people two seemingly 
indestructible monuments to his reign that are without 
counterpart in the Western Hemisphere. One is his 
royal palace Sans-Souci and the other, the stupendous 

fortress called la Citadelle Laferriere. Probably no 
two other structures in America have so much fascina- 
tion for tourists and world travelers as these. They 
are reached by taking a side road from Le Cap to the 
village of Milot, a distance of about 20 miles. Here 
the majestic ruins of San-Souci rise against a backdrop 
of verdure-draped mountains. Above and behind the 
palace on a rocky promontory is the massive Citadelle; 
it is reached on horseback through a narrow pass, a 
trip of about an hour and a half. 

Sans-Souci, the most magnificent of Christophe's nine 
royal palaces and eight chateaux, has been called 
the most regal structure ever raised in the New World. 
Visitors who ascend the sweeping staircase and pass 
through the roofless chambers that were once sumptu- 
ous banquet halls and ballrooms, furnished with costly 
French imports, can imagine, perhaps, the spectacular 
grandeur in which King Henri lived— and died. Like 
the leading character in an incredible melodrama, the 
King ended his own life with a silver bullet in Sans- 
Souci, as his people rose in wrath against him. 

Like a grim Cyclops, the Citadelle Laferriere dominates 
land, sea, and sky, situated at an altitude of more 
than 3,000 feet atop the peak called Bonnet a I'Eveque 
(Bishop's Bonnet). Conceived by Christophe, it was 
begun in 1804 and designed to be an impregnable 
stronghold against possible attempts by Napoleon to 
reconquer Haiti. Over the same mountain trail that 
travelers take to reach the Citadelle, an army of con- 
scripted former slaves dragged tons of masonry, 365 
weighty bronze cannon, and a huge supply of cannon 
balls. It is said that in the construction of the Citadelle, 
20,000 out of 200,000 laborers lost their lives. 

On the last lap of the trail, the visitor suddenly finds 
himself in the shadow of the mighty Citadelle, gazing 
in wonderment at a masterpiece of architecture and 
engineering, and not a sprawling conglomeration of 
masonry. Like the prow of a ship, its great bastions 
sweep gracefully upward from the rocky summit; its 
walls are 140 feet high. Terraced stonework and 
symmetrical battlements add beauty to this symbol of 
strength, which has withstood earthquakes and the 

The Citadelle Laferriere, called 
"eighth wander of the world" 

elements for over a century and a quarter. The walls 
are twelve feet thick at their base and taper to six 
at the top. The upper court of the fortress is open to 
the sun and swept by breezes from the Atlantic. It was 
in the center of this court that the body of Christophe 
was dumped into a vat of quicklime to keep it from the 
mob, after the fatal shot. A simple mausoleum marks 
the spot. 

The Northern Peninsula 

Port-de-Paix, chief city and port of the northern 
peninsula and capital of the Department of the West, is 
situated on the Atlantic at the end of a beautiful valley 
traversed by the Trois Rivieres. This was Columbus' 
Vale of Paradise, named Valle del Paraiso by him. 
At the mouth of the river where the Discoverer anchored 
the Santa A^an'a, French buccaneers from Tortuga 
Island founded a refuge from the British and Spanish 

The Northern Penintula 

in 1664 and named it Port-de-Paix (Port of Peace) 
Oldest city in the republic, it became the seat of the 
first French garrison and was for a time the capital of 
the colony. It was here, in 1679, that the first insur- 
rection of the slaves took place. 

Port-de-Paix has a fine port, which is the principal 
outlet for the bananas, coffee, and cacao produced on 
the peninsula. Like Le Cap, it is more picturesque than 
modern, with its pastel-tinted houses and ruins of 
colonial forts. The barren western end of the peninsula 
has no towns of any size or importance, except for the 
historical association of Mole Saint-Nicolas with the 
arrival of Columbus in Haitian waters in 1492. Here he 
anchored in the deep natural harbor, which jtill bears 
the name he gave it. 

The chief city and port on the southern side of the 
peninsula is historic Gonaives, known as the birthplace 
of the nation because it was here, on January 1, 1804, 
that Dessalines formally proclaimed independence! 
abolished forever the French colonial name Saint- 
Domingue, and restored the original Indian name Hayti. 
Capital of the Artibonite Department, Gonaives is the 
chief outlet for the products of the rich plain that 
extends south -to St. Marc. 

The picturesque town of Ennery, east of Gonaives on 
the road to Le Cap, lies in a mountain-rimmed valley of 
rare beauty. Here one of General Toussaint's favorite 
plantations was located. There is a superb view at the 
highest point in the divide between the valleys of 
Ennery and Plaisance. To the west lies the great horse- 
shoe bay of Gonaives and to the north, the rolling 
Atlantic breaks on the shores of the peninsula. The 
Eden-like valley of Plaisance is, as its French name im- 
plies, truly a pleasure to behold. Famous for its giant 
ferns and waving plumes of bamboo, it is also fragrant 
with orange and coffee blossoms; great mango and 
mahogany trees tower above the verdure. 

The Artibonite Plain was a major theatre of Dessalines' 
operations against the French. On a bluff behind the 
town of Petite-Rivtere-de-l'Artibonite one may see the 
fort Crete-a-Pierrot, scene of Dessalines' heroic stand 
against Leclerc's veteran troops, who ultimately won the 



lie de la Tortus 

^r" ^ J*-* 


The regal ruins of Sans-Souci Palace 

bloody battle. On the same road is one of the best 
preserved of Christophe's provinciol headquarters, the 
Palace of 300 Doors; it was restored and made into 
a school during the present century. 

St. Marc, second city of the French colony, still pre- 
serves some of the ancient buildings of the colonial 
period. The town's chief attraction is its beautiful 
miniature white-sand beach. St. Marc is an important 
center for handling and exporting the cotton, coffee, 
bananas, sugar, cacao, and rice of the Artibonite 
Plain. Local industry consists of cotton mills, oil-extrac- 
tion plants, and lard and soap factories. 

lie de la Tortue 

Facing Port-de-Paix and separated from the mainland 
by a 10-mile-wide channel of the Atlantic, is the island 
that early became notorious in the history of the 
Spanish Main, and from which came Haiti's first per- 
manent settlers. Here, during the first half of the seven- 
teenth century, on odd assortment of adventurers and 
sea rovers— mostly Norman French and some English- 

men—took refuge after being driven from the island of 
St. Christopher by the Spaniards. They were joined by 
Dutch refugees, and for some years all lived harmoni- 
ously together, cultivating crops and hunting wild boar 
and cattle. From their custom of curing meat over 
fires on spits or grills called toucans, they became 
known as boucaniers, the origin of the English word 
"buccaneer." To combat the persistent attacks of the 
Spaniards, they banded together in a society known 
as "Brethren of the Coast," and the more aggressive 
ones engaged in piracy against Spanish shipping. 

When England, France, and Holland challenged Spain's 
trade monopoly by permitting privateers to attack her 
treasure-laden galleons, the island became a hideout 
and base for freebooters. Hispaniola occupied a stra- 
tegic position in the Spanish Main, for ships laden with 
goods for the colonial trade called at Santo Domingo, 
on the southeastern shore of the island, and returned to 
Spain laden with gold and silver from the conquered 
Aztec and Inca Empires. For almost two centuries Spain 
maintained a convoy system to protect her galleons. 

The Sfruggle for Independence 

In 1641 French refugees, driven from the island by the 
English, founded Port Margof, the first settlement on 
the western end of Haiti. The destruction of Port 
Margot by the Spaniards led to the founding of Port- 
de-Poix, after the French recaptured their island base. 
Near Palmiste, in the highland region, one may see 
the ruins of the palace built for Pauline Bonaparte 
Lecierc, so that she and her court might escape the 
ravages of malaria and yellow fever on the mainland, 
in addition to her palace, the fortifications, hospital, 
barracks, and other buildings were destroyed when the 
insurgents revolted against the French. Today, lie de la 
Tortue is fairly well populated and extensively farmed. 
Fishing is the chief activity along the coast. 

Historical and Political Development 

After Columbus' unsuccessful attempt to found a per- 
manent colony at Fort Nativity, he explored the 
northern coast of what is now the Dominican Republic. 
Discovery of gold in the riverbeds of this region was 
a compelling reason for the establishment of Spain's 
first permanent colony in the New World in the eastern 
portion of Hispaniola. in their frenzied search for gold, 
the Spaniards overran the island, unmercifully slaugh- 
tering or enslaving the defenseless Arawak Indians, 
whom Columbus had previously described as "lovable, 
tractable, peaceable and praiseworthy." Fifteen hun- 
dred Indian slaves were shipped to Spain, but the 
majority died en route. Thousands of natives fled to 
the mountains, while others took casava poison. Fifty 
years after the discovery and subjugation of Hispaniola, 
its native population of around 300,000 had been re- 
duced to fewer than 500, according to historians. 

So horrified was Bishop Bartolome de las Casas by the 
barbarities committed against the Indians, that he pre- 
vailed upon the Spanish Crown to permit the im- 
portation of African slaves, believing that they would 
be better able to withstand the treatment of the Spanish 
colonizers. In 1512, the first Africans were imported, 
chiefly to work the gold mines of Santo Domingo, the 
official name given the colony by Spain. Because the 
eastern half of the island was the center of Spanish 

operations, the western portion (Hayti) was virtually 
deserted and ignored for more than a century. 

In the contest among the Spaniards, French, Dutch and 
English for colonial possessions in the New World, 
Hispaniola became one of the most coveted prizes in 
the Caribbean. Although the Spaniards were firmly 
entrenched in Santo Domingo and controlled two thirds 
of the island, they failed to prevent the French from 
gaining a strong foothold in Hayti by way of Tortuga 
Island. France's claim to this region was recognized in 
1697 in the Treaty of Ryswick, by which Spain ceded 
Hayti to France. 

During the next hundred years French Saint-Domingue 
was France's most prosperous overseas possession, 
thanks principally to the cultivation of sugar cane and 
the importation of a million Negro slaves during the 
century. It has been estimated that the annual import 
and export trade of the colony amounted to the fabu- 
lous sum of $140,000,000, exceeding that of the thirteen 
British colonies of North America. 

The Struggle for Independence 

How the Haitians survived three centuries of bloody 
conquest, cruel enslavement, and fratricidal warfare to 
create the world's first independent Negro republic 
and the second sovereign nation in the New World, is 
an epic story of human endurance and the uncon- 
querable will of a people to gain freedom. Prior to 
their own struggle for independence, many Haitians 
fought under George Washington to free the American 
colonies from British rule. Among some 800 volunteers 
who fought in the siege of Savannah were Beauvais, 
Chavannes, Christophe, and Rigaud, destined soon to 
become leaders of the Haitian insurrection. This was 
precipitated in 1789 by the French Revolution, which 
further^ sharpened the conflict of interests among the 
colony's three distinct social classes: the white aris- 
tocracy, numbering about 36,000; the 28,000 affranchis 
(freedmen), the majority of whom were mulattoes; and 
approximately half a million Negro slaves. 

The white aristocrats, who administered the afFairs of 



the colony in addition to their wealth-producing planta- 
tions, wanted nothing less than complete political free- 
dom for Saint-Domingue, without interference from the 
National Assembly in Paris. The freedmen, who were 
full French citizens by virtue of Louis XIV's Code Noir 
of 1685, with all rights including the ownership of 
slaves, sought guarantees for their Individual liberties. 
On March 8, 1790, France decreed political and civil 
rights for free taxpayers in the colonies. But the whites, 
who for years had been nullifying the provisions of the 
Code Noir, refused to apply this decree in Saint- 
Domingue. In protest, two mulatto leaders, Vincent 
Oge and Jean-Baptiste Chavannes, organized a demon- 
stration at Le Cap; the colonial police retaliated by 
seizing them and breaking them on the wheel. 

Then came the revolt of the Negro slaves, followed by 
a proclamation of the abolition of slavery by the 
French colonial commissioner Sonthonax, who exceeded 
his authority. This prompted Rigoud, the able mulatto 
leader, to break with the Negroes, thus creating three 
warring factions, a situation that both the English, 
established on the end of the northern peninsula, and 
the Spaniards of Santo Domingo sought to take ad- 
vantage of. 

At this critical juncture, Toussaint Louverture came to 
the fore. This remarkable figure, an ex-slave and 
former stable-boy who was self-educated and had 
learned French, won recognition from his enemies for 
his intelligence, and fanatical devotion from his fol- 
lowers for his courage and iron will. Toussaint joined 
forces with the Spaniards after the outbreak of war 
between Spain and France in 1793, and raised an 
army of 4,000 men. But after the abolition of slavery, 
he shifted his allegiance to France and carried on a 
military campaign that practically eliminated the 
English. Made Lieutenant-Governor by Sonthonax, 
Toussaint then forced hiiii to leave for France and as- 
sumed complete control of the North. By defeating 
Rigaud and the mulattoes who controlled the South, 
Toussaint consolidated the whole of the French colony 
and brought the entire island under his sway by subju- 
gating Spanish Santo Domingo. Spain ceded Santo 

Toussaint Louverture, 

precursor of Haitian independence 



The Republican Ptriod 

Domingo fo France by the Treaty of Basle in 1795. 

With great skill, Toussaint managed to restore a large 
measure of prosperity to the island, to heal the wounds 
of racial conflict, and to create a foundation for self- 
government under the Constitution of May 9, 1801, 
which was drawn up by seven whites and three mulat- 
toes. Under its terms Toussaint became Governor Gen- 
eral of the colony for life. By this time the French 
Revolution had run its course and Napoleon Bonaparte 
was in full command. In his grand design for building 
a New World Empire, Haiti was to be a stepping-stone 
for the invasion of the southern United States adjoining 
France's Louisiana Territory. Saint-Domingue was for- 
mally established as a province of France by the Con- 
stitution approved in July 1801. 

Although Toussaint was the precursor of Haitian inde- 
pendence, he did not sever the political ties of Saint- 
Domingue with the Mother Country by the act of 
secession. Nevertheless, Napoleon mistrusted the 
motives of the "gilded African," as he called Toussaint, 
and sent the Leclerc expedition to put him in his place, 
in the complete fiasco that followed. Napoleon's dream 
of an American empire was dashed forever. Toussaint 
stood by his pledge, made in a secret commercial treaty 
with the United Sfatps, not to engage in hostile acts 
against that country. In 1803, the same year in which 
the French capitulated to Dessalines, tne United States 
purchased the Louisiana Territory. Toussaint, by this 
time, was dying in a dungeon in France. 

The final victory of the Haitians came after Dessalines 
and his Negro generals joined forces with the mulat- 
toes of the South, led by Petion. Yellow fever, mortal 
foe of the French expedition, was a major factor in 
the outcome of the struggle. On November 18, 1803, 
the Haitians decisively defeated the French Army under 
General Rochambeau, who succeeded Leclerc, at Ver- 
tieres near Le Cap, and the French General surrendered 
his sword to an English admiral aboard his flagship in 
the harbor. 

The Republican Period 

The United States was only twenty years old when 

Jean Jacques Dessalines, 
liberator and national hero 

Haiti became independent, marking the first successful 
revolt against European colonial rule in Latin America. 
Dessalines was Haiti's first chief of state and assumed 
the title of emperor in September 1805, in imitation of 
Napoleon. By ruling with an iron hand and severely 
punishing those who disobeyed him, Dessalines restored 
order, made the vast plantations the property of the 
state, and restored a substantial degree of prosperity. 
His political enemies and the hard-driven masses re- 
sented his tyrannical methods and he was assassinated 
from ambush in October 1806. 

In an attempt to establish a republic, a constituent 
assembly rewrote the Constitution, strictly limiting the 
powers of the president. Henri Christophe, who refused 
to accept the presidency on these terms, precipitated 
a struggle for power between himself and the mulatto 
general Petion. As a result, the new nation was divided: 
Christophe ruled the North as a kingdom, after having 
himself crowned King Henry I, while Petion governed 
22 the South as a republic. Both were determined to 
raise the standard of living of their people by extending 
education, distributing public lands, restoring pros- 
perity, and moderating the antagonism between the 
Negroes and mulattoes. A revolt returned the eastern 
part of the island to Spanish rule in 1809. 

It was not until after General Jean Pierre Boyer became 
president in 1818 and after Christophe's suicide in 
1820 that the nation was united politically. President 
Boyer, like Petion, was a cultured mulatto who strength- 
ened the constitutional structure of the republic by 
promulgating legal codes based on French legislation. 
During his presidency, which lasted 25 years, he gained 
French recognition of Haitian independence and in- 
corporated Spanish Santo Domingo within the national 
territory by taking advantage of a revolt against 
Spanish rule. The entire island remained under Haitian 
authority for 20 years until, in 1 844, the annexed portion 
revolted and became the Dominican Republic. 

From 1849 to 1859, a former slave, Faustin Souloque, 
ruled the second empire of Haiti as Faustin I. A 
revolution ended his dictatorship and General Fabre 
Geffrard became president. His able administration 

initiated many reforms, but in 1867 he resigned after 
a revolt against him. Twenty different presidents 
headed the government from GefTrard's time to 1915. 
Outstanding among them were Louis-Felicite Lysius 
Salomon, who founded the National Bank, reorgan- 
ized secondary education, and instituted other reforms; 
and Florvil Hyppolite, who established the Ministry of 
Public Works, introduced the telephone and telegraph 
systems, and built numerous markets and bridges. Other 
presidents followed each other in rapid succession in 
a period marked by bitter clashes between Negroes 
and mulattoes, by political corruption, and the violent 
overthrow or assassination of chiefs-of-state. 

At the outbreak of World War I, Haiti's chaotic political 
and economic condition placed it in a highly vulnerable 
position, since European countries that had loaned huge 
sums of money to the various Haitian governments 
were tempted to collect the debts by force. To make 
matters even worse, the country was in the grips of a 
wave of terrorism that reached a tragic climax in July 
1915, when President Vilbrun Guillaume Sam was 
barbarously put to death. At this point, a detachment 
of United States Marines landed and assumed tempo- 
rary authority. 

The military occupation of Haiti by the United States 
was formalized by a treaty of ten years' duration, later 
renewed for another ten years. Under its terms, the 
United States collected customs, advised the treasury, 
organized a police force (nucleus of the present Armee 
d'Haiti), and directed public works, health programs, 
and agricultural development projects. By 1930, the 
country was on a stable financial footing. Peace was 
restored after the final defeat in 1918 of the cacos— 
peasants and bandits from the mountains, who formed 
guerrilla bands and terrorized the country. The Haitian 
people, naturally resentful of the United States occupa- 
tion, eagerly desired the restoration of their notional 

The first step in this direction was taken by President 
Herbert Hoover, who appointed a commission that 
worked with responsible Haitian leaders for the holding 
of a free election in 1930. Stenio Vincent was elected 



president, and during his administration the marines 
were withdrawn from Haiti (1934) by President Fronkfin 
D. Roosevelt. President Vincent was succeeded in office 
by another able mulatto Elie Lescot, who governed 
until 1946 when a military coup forced him to resign. 
The country was governed by a junta until a constituent 
assembly, representing a coalition of political groups, 
elected Dumarsais Estime as president. In 1950, when 
President Estime sought to change the Constitution in 
order to permit his own re-election, the proposed 
amendment was rejected and a military junta forced 
him into exile. 

The traditional rivalry between the Negro leaders and 
the so-called elite ruling caste of mulattoes once more 
threatened the political stability of the country. How- 
ever, the junta resolved this particular crisis by adopting 
a policy of national unity and supporting" the powerful 
and well-educated Negro leader Major Paul Magloire 
for the presidency. It is significant that Major Magloire 
was the first president to be elected by the direct vote of 
the people in the history of Haiti. Dr. Francois Du- 
valier became president in 1957. 

Haiti's constitutional development since independence 
has been influenced by the French legal codes and by 
the Constitution of the United States, which served as 
a model for many Latin American nations in establish- 
ing a republican form of government. Haitian Con- 
stitutions were frequently abolished or amended, ac- 
cording to the desires of the president or party in 
power. The Constitution now in effect was promulgated 
in December 1957. It declares Haiti to be a republic- 
"indivisible, sovereign, independent, and democratic." 
The powers of state are divided info three branches of 
government: legislative, executive, and judicial. 

The executive power is exercised by the president of 
the republic, who is elected for a term of six years by 
direct popular suffrage and by majority vote. He is 
ineligible for immediate re-election. A cabinet of five 
or more secretaries assists the president. 

The national legislature, Chambre Legislative, is a uni- 
cameral body composed of 67 deputies who are elected 
by a majority vote for a six-year term. The judicial 

branch of the government consists of the Court of 
Cassation, similar to the United States Supreme Court; 
courts of appeal; civil and justice-of-the-peace courts. 
Judges of the Court of Cassation and courts of appeal 
serve for ten years, and those of the lower courts for 
seven. They may not be removed unless they are 

As to citizenship, civil liberties, and sufFrage, the Con- 
stitution declares all Haitians to be equal before the 
law; grants suffrage and political rights to all Haitians 
regardless of sex, who are 21 years of age (under 
certain constitutional and legal conditions); provides for 
freedom of the press, worship, and thought; prohibits 
the death penalty for political offenses other than 
treason; and stipulates that the state shall provide free 
public instruction through the secondary level. Na- 
turalized Haitians gain political rights five years after 
their naturalization. The Constitution guarantees to 
both citizens and resident aliens the right to hold private 
property. However, in the case of aliens or foreign 23 
companies, this right ceases within two years of the 
date on which the alien leaves Haiti and, in the latter 
case, upon termination of a compan/s operation. 

The main political subdivisions of Haiti are nine depart- 
ments, named as follows: the North, Northeast, North- 
west, Artibonite, Central, West, Southeast, South, and 
Grande Anse. Each is headed by a prefect appointed 
directly by the president of the republic. The depart- 
ments are subdivided into arrondissemenfs. There is 
no legislative assembly elected by popular vote in either 
case. However, there is a Council of the Prefecture, 
composed of prefects, municipal magistrates, commis- 
sioners of the central government, and school and 
other public officials. The communes, or municipalities 
into which the arrondissements are divided, are auto- 
nomous and have communal councils whose members 
are elected for a four-year term. 

The Armee d'Hoiti (National Guard) functions as both 
police force and militia; the president of the republic, 
who is its commander-in-chief, appoints the officers. 
The Army has an air force, which operates an air 
reconnaissance and transport service within the country. 

A Haitian carnival queen 

Since 1949, the United States has supplied air and 
24 naval missions for the training of personnel. The Coast 
Guard mans the Haitian Navy's five vessels. 

Culture and Customs 

Haiti's unique cultural heritage— a blend of French and 
African traditions and customs with a dash of Indian 
and Spanish— accounts for the tremendous interest of 
social scientists and devotees of the arts in present-day 
Haitian culture. For the same reason, many travelers 
and tourists find Haiti fascinating and totally difFerent 
from all the other American republics. The Haitian 
people have created, rather than adopted, their own 
cultural life, whose attainments are reflected In the 
works of outstanding painters, writers, and intellectuals. 

The Haitian People 

Roughly 90 per cent of Haiti's population of more than 
3,500,000 is pure Negro and the remainder, mulatto 
of French ascendancy, with a small minority of whites. 

The original Negro slaves, from whom the majority of 
Haitians are descended, were taken from numerous 
African tribes, including such brave, proud tribes as the 
ibos and Wolofs, distinguished by their physical prowess 
and resourcefulness. The present population also shows 


The Haitian People 
Life in Haiti 

the effect of almost three centuries of intermarriage 
and interbreeding among the Negroes and white 
French colonists. Haitians with Indian features are few in 
number, as are those with traces of Spanish in their 
features and language. 

Almost three centuries of slavery, followed by the bitter 
rivalry for political and social dominance between 
mulattoes and Negroes, explains the class distinctions 
that still exist. These have long been expressed by the 
terms "elite" and "peasantry." Generally speaking, 
the term elite signifies the mulattoes of the upper class 
and, in times past, the ruling class. This cultured 
minority includes many Paris-educated Haitians, whose 
French is impeccable; the prosperous and wealthy; and 
artists, writers, intellectuals, lawyers, and diplomats. 
At the opposite end of the scale are the peasants who, 
taken as a whole, are pure Negroes. They inhabit the 
rural areas, farm the land, and perform manual labor. 
The Haitian peasant is a person of simple dignity, 
good-humored, and happy, despite his poverty. 

To these two seemingly rigid classifications, there are 
notable exceptions. The caste structure of Haitian 
society is changing as the worth of individuals of the 
two traditional classes asserts itself. There is a grow- 
ing middle class of scholars, intellectuals, professional 
people, and merchants, the latter including Syrians, 
Lebanese, Corsicans, and other nationalities. 

Life in Haiti 

Living conditions in Haiti are greatly influenced by the 
fact that the country is overpopulated and has the 
highest population density in the Western Hemisphere. 
Roughly 85 per cent of the population is rural and 
engaged in agriculture. 

If one were to judge Haitian life solely by the statistics 
on illiteracy, per capita income, and sanitation facili- 
ties, the picture would be a very gloomy one; for the 
masses lack most of the things that are considered 
essential to maintaining good living standards today. 
Although poor in worldly goods, the peasants have 
their own priceless possessions, which sustain them in a 
truly remarkable way. Perhaps the most important of 




these is their philosophical nature— their will to live, to 
laugh, to sing, to be carefree. To the descendants of 
slaves, freedom and a plot of land are priceless indeed. 
Their simple, modest existence is enlivened by the 
coumbites, or work bees, in which neighbors help each 
other with a sowing or harvest; and by the faamboches, 
or festivities, that come after work. 

Suffusing the lives of the peasants with a spiritual 
element quite beyond the comprehension of foreigners 
is the ancient African cult of vaudou (voodoo), with its 
mysterious rituals, symbols, music, and dances. Voodoo 
exists side by side with Catholicism, the official religion 
of the country, as manifested on July 15, when thou- 
sands of Haitians attend the great Catholic festival at 
the foot of the beautiful waterfall, Saut d'Eau, which 
serves simultaneously for voodoo baptismal rites. 

Another element that binds the peasants together is 
their native Creole language, a rich patois full of 
proverbs, which evolved from the dialect of the African 
slaves, the island's indigenous Indian tongue, the 
Norman French of the buccaneers, and the language 
of the French colonists. Although the official language 
of Haiti is French, almost everyone speaks Creole, 

The living standards and social life of the elite ore 
much the same as those of the cultured, prosperous 
aristocracy of any other country, with one exception: 
French influence dominates upper-class tastes in litera- 
ture, education, fashions, and cuisine. One hears the 
purest French spoken in business, professional, and 
government circles; and in the perfectly appointed 
homes and clubs of cultured Haitians, whose reputation 
for hospitality and charm is unsurpassed. 


One of the major handicaps that Haiti inherited from 
the French colonial era was widespread illiteracy result- 
ing from the total lack of an educational system. The 
French planters, not noted for culture themselves, had 
no interest in providing schools for anyone. Those who 
wanted to educate their own children procured French 
tutors or sent their sons to Paris for schooling. Thus, 
the Haitians had to start from scratch, so to speak, in 

establishing a school system after independence. 
Christophe, Petion, and Boyer made determined efforts 
in this direction; however, it was not until Geffrard be- 
came president in 1875 that a serious attempt was 
made to extend education beyond the ranks of the elite. 

Although the present illiteracy rate is high and school 
attendance low, definite progress has been made in 
overcoming the obstacles to public education. The Con- 
stitution stipulates that primary education is compulsory 
and that primary and secondary education shall be 
free to everyone. Technical and vocational training is 
being extended; likewise, adult education. The Uni- 
versity of Haiti was established by the national govern- 
ment in 1944. 

The Secretary of State for National Education exercises 
administrative control over the urban school system, 
while the Secretary of State for Agriculture administers 
the rural school system. There are two inspectors of 
education for each of the 24 school districts into which 
the country is divided. In addition to financing the 
public schools, the national government also supports in 
whole or in part various private and parochial schools, 
many of which are operated by the Catholic Church 
and Protestant Missions. The Ministry of Labor super- 
vises workers' education for illiterate adults. There has 
been a substantial increase during the last decade in 
the number of vocational training institutions and com- 
mercial schools. 

There are two concepts of education in Haiti, which to 
some extent tend to deter efforts to unify the educa- 
tional system. The urban schools modeled on the French 
pattern, aim to eradicate illiteracy and to provide a 
classical course of study; while the rural schools, follow- 
ing the American influence, attempt to determine the 
pupil's needs in everyday life and effectively integrate 
the school program with the community's needs. Also, 
attempts are being made successfully to break down the 
barrier between the Creole-speaking peasantry and the 
French-speaking minority. Instruction in the primary 
schools, at least in the first grade, is now generally 
given first in Creole, then in French. Secondary schools 
are no longer entirely academic or classical, but have 


Art and Architecture 


a wider range of studies. Their graduates acquit them- 
selves creditably in American colleges and universities, 
as they have done for years in France. 

Haitian primary schools, which in 1960 numbered 
1,239, provide a six-year course of elementary studies 
leading to the Certificat d'Etudes Primaires. There are 
also several primaires superieures, or primary schools 
which include complementary courses. Rural primary 
schools difFer from urban ones in that they operate 
on the practical principle of training children to learn 
by doing. In addition to the three R's, rural schools 
emphasize preparation— in the case of boys— for entry 
into agricultural schools. Illiteracy and low school 
attendence in rural areas are difficult to combat, due 
to the fact that peasant families have traditionally de- 
pended on school-age children for help in making a 
livelihood and due to lack of transportation between 
schools and remote areas. Secondary schools are 
practically non-existent outside of urban sections. 

Progress in reducing illiteracy among the peasants is 
being mode slowly bu.t surely by the Haitian Govern- 
ment, with the help of international agencies such as 
UNESCO. The government's campaign against illiteracy, 
launched in 1943, was supplemented some years later 
by the pilot project undertaken by UNESCO at Morbial, 
a rural region having a high percentage of illiterates; 
and by the technical assistance agreement between the 
United States and Haiti, which re-established the Ecole 
Normale Rurale (Rural Normal School) in 1954. 

Despite serious handicaps, the Haitian peasant has 
proved to be an eager student and the parents, as 
well as the children, strive hard to learn. A case in 
point is that of Sineus Hippolyte, once an illiterate 
peasant, who has written a number of plays of didactic 
and moral character since taking courses in adult edu- 
cation. The government's Division of Agricultural Ex- 
tension supplements basic "book-learning" with prac- 
tical training in improved methods of raising and mar- 
keting agricultural products, soil conservation and 
other essential techniques. Free seeds and plants are 
provided as widely as possible and better community 
living standards are demonstrated. 

Secondary education, limited almost exclusively to 
urban areas, consists of a seven-year program of study 
in the lycees, most of which ore coeducational schools. 
Public and private secondary schools numbered 63 in 
1960. Both classical and modern courses are offered. 

The faculties of the University of Haiti and the schools 
or institutes affiliated with it include the College of 
Medicine, the College of Dentistry, the School of Nurs- 
ing, the School of Pharmacy, the College of Law, the 
National School of Agriculture, the Grand Seminaire 
Notre Dame designed to train native Catholic priests, 
the Institute of Ethnology, the School of Surveying, the 
Polytechnic Institute, and the Superior Normal School 
for teachers in secondary schools. Law schools are 
established in the cities of Cap-Haitien, Les Cayes, 
Jeremie and GonaVves. 

Art and Architecture 

The most interesting and original expressions of the 
arts in Haiti stem from its rich folklore, in which the 
dominant ingredient is voodoo. This vital African ele- 
ment, which is the heart and soul of Haitian music, 
dancing, and painting, has had a lesser influence on 
national literature and almost none at all on archi- 
tecture and sculpture. 

Unlike music and dancing, which have long been as 
much a part of Haitian peasant life as eating and 
sleeping, painting and sculpture have emerged and 
flowered into a national movement only within the last 
few decades. Before the Centre d'Art opened its doors 
in Port-au-Prince in 1944, the innate artistic tempera- 
ment of the Haitians found occasional expression in the 
painted designs on some, but not many, of the peasant 
cailles; while a small number of inspired individuals, 
most of them of humble birth, painted in their spare 
time for the love of it, without encouragement or 
recognition. With few exceptions, they were self-taught. 
Their isolation from each other and the lack of an 
outlet for their work prevented the development of 
anything resembling on art movement until the North 
American painter, DeWitt Peters, arrived in Haiti and 
undertook to fill this void by establishing the Centre 
d'Art in a spacious old building in the capital. 


Cdstera Bazine beside 
one of his murals 

Inaugurated with a nucleus of some ten artists, notably 
Hector Hyppolite and Philome Obin, the new Art Center 
drew talented painters and aspiring ones from all parts 
of the country and from all walks of life. Students 
were supplied with materials and were encouraged 
to develop their individual techniques. Sculpture, wood- 
carving, and handicrafts were also important activities. 
As a result of this creative enterprise, Haitian art was 
soon causing a sensation from California to Paris. 

As Haiti's popular art movement gathered momentum, 
the primitive painters came into prominence. Of these, 
the late Hector Hyppolite is probably the most famous 
and the most interesting because he was a voodoo 
hougan (priest), whose art portrayed black magic and 
other supernatural elements of his religion. A year 
before his death in 1948, his primitives were acclaimed 
at UNESCO's international exhibit in Paris. More re- 
strained and disciplined is the primitivism of Philom§ 

Obin, who has drawn inspiration from his native habi- 
tat Cap-HaVtien and his own deeply religious nature. 

The murals of the Episcopal Cathedral St. Trinite in 
Port-au-Prince, which have been called the "crowning 
achievement of Haitian art," represent both the talent 
and spiritual depth of Obin and of the brilliant, self- 
taught Wilson Bigaud, whose mural called "Miracle at 
Cana" covers a space of 528 square feet; another 
outstanding contributor to the murals of St. Trinite 
Cathedral is Casfera Bazile. Among other Haitian 
painters who won recognition in the rebirth of painting 
at the Centre d'Art are Antonio Joseph, Dieudonne 
Cedor, Louverture Poisson, and Gabriel Alix. 

In 1950, a group of dissident painters left the Centre 
to form their own gallery, the Foyer des Arts Plastiques, 
located on the Rue des Miracles in the capital. Among 
them are Max Pinchinat, Roland Dorcely, and Luce 
Tournier; the work of each is distinctive and individual. 





One of the few colonial churches 
still standing in Port-au-Prince 

Most prominent among the older generation of Haitian 
sculptors are Louis Edmond Laforesterie and Normil 
Ulysse Charles. The former, who exhibited In Paris in 
1867, created outstanding portrait busts and designs 
for the Haitian mint. The latter studied in France and 
is best known for his monument to Toussaint Louverture 
and bust of Dessoiines. 

In the revival of sculpture and woodcarving, set in 
motion at the Centre d'Art, Odilon Duperier and Jasmin 
Joseph came to the fore. Duperier, who was once a 
carpenter's assistant, excels in carved masks and fig- 
ures. Jasmin Joseph Is best known for his lively, im- 
aginative terracotta sculptures and the choir screen 

he created for St. Trinite Cathedral. Georges Liataud's 
sheet iron sculptures are more appreciated every day. 
Haiti's architectural heritage presents interesting con- 
trasts, due to the transplantation of the predominating 
styles from Africa and France during the colonial era. 
The first Negro slaves quite naturally modeled their 
dwellings (cailles) after the thatched huts of their native 
Africa. This simple and picturesque architectural pat- 
tern has persisted through the centuries and presents 
interesting variations today in the form of brilliantly 
painted doors, shutters, and woodwork. The French 
chateau-type architecture, introduced by the colonists, 
is the predominating style in urban areas and reached 
grandiose proportions in Christophe's palace San-Souci, 
said to have been patterned after the royal chateau 
of Saint-Cloud near Paris. 

The few examples of French colonial architecture that 
survived the revolutions and civil wars are to be seen in 
and around Cap-Haitien and in the capital. Among 
these are the neo-classic parish church of Cap-Haitien, 
the eighteenth-century cathedral of Port-au-Prince, and 
several fountains, forts, and fine stone bridges in or 
near Le Cap. Traces of early Spanish colonial archi- 
tecture are to be seen in the red tiled roofs, balconies, 
and arcades of a few ancient buildings in Cap-Haitien. 
Haiti's most impressive architectural monument is the 
Citadelle, begun in 1804 under the direction of a 
Haitian engineer, Henri Besse. The French architec- 
tural style of the late nineteenth century left a strong 
imprint, particularly in Port-au-Prince, where the Iron 
Market, the National Palace, and elegant mansions of 
the elite are prime examples. 

During the present century, there has been a definite 
shift in architectural tastes away from the ginger-bread 
details of the high-peaked structures and toward the 
popular modern architecture of today. Haiti has pro- 
duced several outstanding architects, notably Robert 
Baussan, Albert Mangones, Max Ewald, and Rene Ville- 
joint. Petionville's Cabane Choucoune and the Ibo 
Leie Hotel are interesting examples of Baussan's adap- 
tation of the old to the new. Mangones, a graduate of 
Cornell University, designed the Theatre de Verdure, 




tho Cockllulil Adiiiii, (ind some of the capital's out- 
standing holoU titid piivato residences. 


Haiti po!i»fi»ini a truly national literature. It is a fascin- 
ating composite of all the varied elements of Haitian 
life its Fronch and African roots, its primitive and 
lophisticatod cultures, revolutionary and nationalistic 
fervor, sociological and political conflicts, and emo- 
tional and intellectual patterns. Poetic by nature, the 
Haitian people have expressed themselves in all forms 
of poetry, from the Creole folklore of the peasants 
to the sophisticated French verse of the elite. Many 
writers of the nineteenth century devoted themselves to 
creating belles leffres in the traditional French style 
and some received the highest recognition of the French 
Academy. Others, notably Antoine Dupres, were in- 
spired by the struggle for human and political freedom. 
Toward the end of the century, romanticism flowered 
with the lyric poetry .written by Oswald Durand in 
French and Creole. 

The School of Aril and loHor*, Port-au-Prince 

New influences in the early twentieth century were 
responsible for an interesting transition in the style and 
content of Haitian poetry, fiction, and other forms of 
prose. Haiti's pioneer ethnologists J. C. Dorsainvil, who 
devoted his life to the study of voodoo, and Jean 
Price-Mars focused attention on native folklore and its 
literary values. The occupation of Haiti by the United 
States Marines stirred up a wave of nationalism and 
social consciousness that influenced the literature of the 
period. Particularly significant was the Revue Indigene, 
founded in 1927 and edited by the poet Emile Roumere 
with the collaboration of Philippe Thoby-Marcelin and 
the late Jacques Roumain, both top-ranking novelists. 
This revue stimulated a profound re-examination and 
a realistic evaluation of Haiti's social and cultural 
heritage, leading to greater emphasis on the rich 
folklore of African origin by poets and novelists in- 
cluding Carl Brouard, Lorimer Denis, Frangois Duvaller, 
Jean Brierre, and Roussan Camille. 

Leon Laleau, talented and versatile writer of poetry and 
prose, wrote Le Choc, portraying the despair of his 
people; his Musique Negre is an excellent collection of 
verse expressing the heart and soul of the Haitian 
masses. Brouard, whose style is both virile and delicate, 
employed Haitian material in his natural unadorned 
poems. The symbolist poet Magloire St. Aude also 
belongs to this group, whose poetry is Creole in ex- 
pression and feeling, even though linguistically French 
for the most part. Emile Roumer's lyric poem Declara- 
tion Paysanne has been put to music. The late Louis 
Diaquoi, a leading journalist and poet who believed 
that Haitian writers should draw inspiration from their 
African heritage, fostered the group called "Les Griots," 
whose basic source material comes from voodoo. 

This important transition, or trend, in Haitian literature 
reached a high point in the novels of the late Jacques 
Romain. This distinguished novelist, poet, and ethnolo- 
gist rose to international fame with his powerful and 
realistic portrayal of life in a peasant community in 
Gouverneurs de la Rosee (Masters of the Dew), which 
has been translated into some 17 different languages. 
Among other Haitian writers who have been acclaimed 

Music and Polkltr* 

Haitians make amusing costumes for carnival 

abroad are the brothers Pierre Morcelin orrd Philippe 
Thoby-Marcelin, whose novels Canape Verte, The 
Pencil of God, and The Beast of the Haitian Hills deal 
with peasant life with an objectivity and detachment 
that were entirely lacking in the works of Romain and 


Marie Chouvet. Justin Lherisson is best known for his 
unforgettable description of Haitian life in La Famille 
des Petite Caille. 

Other contemporary Haitian writers worthy of mention 
are the novelists Fernand Hibbert, Jacques Alexis, 
Edriss St. Amant, J. F. Roy, F. Morisseau-Leroy, and 
Antoine Innocent, and the poets Louis Borno, Damocles 
Vieux, Luc Grimard, Charles Moravia, Constantin May- 
ard, and Louis H. Durand. The poet and playwright 
Massillon Coicou, a literary leader of the so-called 
Centennial Generation, was one of the first Haitian 
writers to incorporate Creole into the realm of letters. 
In the dramatic arts, Frank Fouche and Morisseau- 
Leroy distinguished themselves by rendering into Creole 
two plays of Sophocles, the Oedipus Rex and Ant/gone, 
both of which were produced with outstanding success 
at the Theatre de Verdure in Port-au-Prince. 

In the fields of history, law, and the social sciences, out- 
standing contributions have been made by a number of 
twentieth-century writers, including Dantes Bellegarde, 
diplomat, educator, and historian; the ethnologist Dr. 
Price-Mars; the late Dr. Dorsainvil, historian and soci- 
ologist; Jean Fouchard and Emile Morcelin, essayists; 
and the historian Enoch Trouillot. 

Music and Folklore 

Nothing more truly reveals the character, temperament, 
devoutness, and daily life of the Haitian masses than 
their music, songs, and dances. One might say that 
they are the very soul of Haiti. Singing, drumming, and 
dancing go hand-in-hand, particularly in voodoo cere- 
monies, and are pure African in origin. There is a 
song for every activity, whether it be religious, festive, 
or in performance of daily work. 

The vast repertory of original Haitian folk songs has 
been handed down from generation to generation and 
added to by the descendants of the slaves; few songs 
have been written down until recent years. Most of 
the songs are chants, but they are not sung in harmony. 
In the realm of Voodoo, there are songs to every 
loa (god) and to be in communication with one's loa, 
the Haitian must become "possessed" by the spirit of his 
god, who thus speaks through him. The African word 




The School of Medicine, Port-au-Prince 

for spirit is believed to be synonymous with the words 
vodun, vaudou, or voodoo. Possession by the loa is 
induced mainly by the drummers, who beat out the 
rhythm with an intensify and persistence that build up 
an almost hypnotic effect. The hougan's, or priest's, 
female chorus is an important part of the ceremony. 

In addition to voodoo ceremonial and ritual songs, 
there are many other types including the work songs 
of the coumbiie, often spiced with gossip and sung in 
a lively tempo; the party songs sung at the bamboche 
and during the Mardi Gras; others that are anecdotal 
and memorialize certain events; and still others of a 
tender, poetic strain like Haiti Cherie, expressing the 
Haitian's deep love for his homeland, written by Othelo 
Bayard. Interesting collections recorded on long-playing 
records include "Songs and Dances of Haiti," "Creole 
Songs of Haiti," and "Haitian Folk Songs." 

The musical instruments of Haiti are varied and unique. 
They include drums of all sizes and descriptions: the 
four-note bamboo flute, the African marimba, the 
Iambi (conch shell), the papaya-stem piston, the large 
bamboo base-vaccine, and the tambourine. Not all of 

Haiti's music is of African origin, nor can all of it 
be called folk music. There are also the formal and 
sophisticated types of salon and concert music. 

Haiti has produced some outstanding composers, many 
of whom have specialized in the harmonization and 
orchestration of their country's folk music. These include 
Justin Elie (1883-1931), whose works include the 
Babylon suite of four oriental sketches, the Kiskaya, 
Suite Aborigene, based on Peruvian folklore, and the 
colorful Danses Tropicales, with their rhythmic Haitian 
and Cuban motifs; Theramene Manes, known for his 
studies of the folk dances. La Meringue and lo Vadou; 
Decide Joanty, composer of the Haitian march "1804" 
and Les Vautours du 6 Decembre,- and Ludovic Lamothe 
(1882-1952), whose slow waltzes reflect the nostalgic 
melancholy of the Negro. 

Haitians love to dance as much as they love to sing. 
The peasants, dancing individually rather than in 
couples, express love, sadness, joy, and devoutness in 
their free, uninhibited bodily motions always to the 
rhythm of the drum. Sophisticated ballroom dances, 
such as the meringue, are well-known outside Haiti. 

Since 1939, when Mme. Una Blanchet organized a 
group of young people to perform traditional Haitian 
folk songs and dances, a national movement in this 
direction has been gathering momentum. Jean Leon 
Destine, after being acclaimed on the New York stage 
for his solo interpretations of Haitian dances, returned 
to Port-au-Prince to direct the Troupe Nationale Folk- 
lorique in its regular seasons at the Theatre de Verdure. 
This troupe and two others— one organized by the 
Haitian singer Emerante de Pradines and the other by 
Odette Wiener— have been enthusiastically received 
abroad as well as home, thus opening tKe door to a 
wider appreciation of this outstanding Haitian art. 

Social Progress 

Age-old problems inherited from the past have long 
been obstacles to social progress in Haiti. Nevertheless 
progress has been, and is being, made slowly but 
surely. Some of the major obstacles to present and 
future social development are the country's high popu- 


Public Health 

ludon (loiully (348 persons to the square mile), the 
lurijn ruKil population representing about 83 per cent 
<il ihn tokil, on illiteracy rate estimated at 75 to 85 
|iiif cent, a low national income, and an increasing 
Mdlioiial debt. 

During the last quarter century, the Haitian Govern- 
nioiit has wisely token advantage of offers of technical 
imd other forms of assistance by entering into co- 
npcrutivo agreements with specialized organizations 
mid agencies of the United Nations and the Organiza- 
lloii of American States, to both of which Haiti belongs. 
Sinco 1942 the governments of Haiti and the United 
Stntos have carried on a cooperative public health 
(Mogram known as SCISP (Service Cooperatif Inter- 
AniAricoin de la Sante Publique). The Rockefeller 
loiindation and other private foundations have also 
irtndnrod valuable assistance to Haiti +n connection 
wllh specific projects. 

I'liljlic Health 

Mm gravity of Haiti's public health problems and 
llir luimendous effort required to solve them can readily 
1 1" understood in the light of the following facts: only 
iiliuiil six per cent of the country's urban population is 
ni|>|ilit (I with water from the 35 water supply systems in 
ii|M'r(ilion in Haitian cities, while rural areas have no 
«n|>|)ly systems at all; the country's 26 hospitals and 
3.*>') physicians are concentrated in urban areas; there 
U only one physician for every 10,000 inhabitants and 
liii»|)ilal beds average 0.5 per 1,000 persons; the inci- 
tlnntti of malaria is very high. It is no wonder that the 
llln «'Kpcctancy of males at birth is only 35 years. 

Mdiii has been accomplished toward improving these 
Itinililions than statistics would indicate. During the 
|Mitt (wo decades the health personnel of the Haitian 
(iiivwniniont and United States technicians from the 
Imllluto of Inter-American Affairs, working together 
lit SCISP, have put into operation new hospitals, dis- 
|)iint(irlos, clinics, and mobile units and have reno- 
yiilotl old installations; inaugurated environmental 
IHttlldllon and control projects for water supply and 
mwiigo disposal; conducted campaigns against mal- 
Hrla, yawi, and other prevalent diseases; and pro- 

vided technical training for nurses and midwives. 

Joint projects now in various stages of completion 
include construction of a tuberculosis ward at the 
hospital in Jeremie and a sewage disposal system; 
a new "Plan of Operations" for the eradication of 
malaria, calling for 900 employees; and construc- 
tion of a potable water distribution system for the 
town of Arcahaie, which is a pilot project. Fifteen sani- 
tarians are working in the Artibonite Valley and 45 
more in the Department of the North, where the 
Pote Cole program includes training of nurses and 
midwives, construction of three self-help markets, and 
environmental sanitation. Technical assistance projects 
sponsored by the United States Government are admin- 
istered by the Agency for International Development 
(AID, U. S. Department of State). 

In recent years the Haitian Government has enlisted 
the advice and assistance of international agencies, 
which are engaged in a number of important public 
health projects. The Ministry of Public Health is re- 
ceiving technical advice for the purpose of formu- 
lating a broad, integrated public health service with 
the aid of the World Health Organization (WHO) 
and AID. The Haitian Government, the Pan American 
Sanitary Bureau (PASB), and the United Nations Chil- 
dren's Fund (UNICEF) have established a demonstra- 
tion area of integrated public health services in a 
sector of the Cul-de-Sac near the capital. The Pan 
American Health Organization (PAHO, a specialized 
organization of the OAS) has granted fellowships for 
the study of laboratory services, public health ad- 
ministration, veterinary and nurses' training. 

Campaigns for the prevention and control of yaws 
and malaria, two of the primary plagues of Haitians, 
have been conducted by the Ministry of Public Health 
and UNICEF with rewarding results. The number of 
reported cases of yaws declined from 2,570 to 32 
per 100,000 persons, a drop of almost 98 per cent, 
between 1950 and 1956. In a zone comprising more 
than two million persons, under special observation for 
the detection and cure of infectious yaws, the incidence 
fell to three cases per 10,000 inhabitants in 1960. The 



Sq&IuI W«Hmi» 

anti-malaria campaign, suspended at the end of 1958, 
was resumed in 1960 under the expanded program of 
SCISP, calling for 500 additional sector and brigade 
chiefs, spraymen, and geographical reconnaissance 
agents. Also of major importance is the community 
water program, a cooperative undertaking of the 
government, WHO, and PASB. 

Cooperative enterprises to improve public health in 
Haiti are not confined exclusively to international 
agencies. Worthy of mention is the action of the Nor- 
folk (Virginia) Rotary Club in establishing a founda- 
tion to assist Haiti in the field of medical care. 

Because the per capita food supply and its caloric con- 
tent are among the lowest in Latin America, the 
Haitian masses suffer from nutritional deficiencies 
bordering on malnutrition, thus making them a prey 
to diseases and undermining their physical stamina 
for work and daily life. To integrate the various nu- 
trition activities carried on by the Haitian Ministries 
34 of Public Health, Agriculture, and Education, the gov- 
ernment and the Food and Agricultural Organizations 
of the United Nations (FAO) are working toward the 
establishment of a Council of Nutrition at the presi- 
dential level. UNESCO's extensive program of child 
aid includes school lunches and CARE distributes food 
among rural families. 


Roughly 90 per cent of the population derives its living 
from some form of agricultural activity, chiefly sub- 
sistence farming and stock raising; hence, the num- 
ber of workers in skilled and unskilled trades is rela- 
tively small. Perhaps the greatest need in the labor 
field is the development of skills, a need that the In- 
ternational Labor Organization (ILO) has done much to 
fill with its technical assistance program. ILO experts, 
for example, taught Haitian mechanics how to con- 
struct simple windmills for irrigation and other pur- 
poses; introduced the wheelwright's trade; taught 
Haitian artisans how to make their own machetes for 
cutting sugar cane, so that these indispensable articles 
would no longer have to be imported; and revolution- 
ized the country's tanning industry by introducing bet- 

er methods for cunng hides. To meet long-torn. mi..Mi, 
ILO traimng specialists are helping Haiti to rBoryMiilM 
technical education and streamlining ono of Iti U.i.j 
ing vocational schools. 

The trade union movement dates from 1948, wliai) 
unions were recognized by law for the first liiiii II.h.m 
IS one federation, the National Union of Hulll, wlilili 
claims a membership of more than 2,500. lndopnii.l»Ml. 
unaffiliated unions have a total membership n.llmulaii 
at around 7,000. There ore presently about 22 uiiIoik 
classified as "mafor" by Haitian officials. The growth 
of the trade union movement has been slow duo, In 
large measure, to the relatively small number of In 
dustrial and professional workers as compartd wllh 
farmers and rural labor. Out of an economically activs 
population of around 1,750,000 men and wom.n, 
roughly 1,500,000 are engaged in agriculture, foroilry, 
hunting, and fishing; manufacturing industries ompluy 
upwards of 85,000, commerce 62,000, service occuiiu' 
tions 80,400, construction 10,300, and mining, tram, 
portation, and public services around 8,000. 
The Constitution declares that every worker is on- 
titled to a fair wage, to the completion of his op- 
prenticeship, to the protection of his health, to lo- 
cial security, and to the well-being of his family in- 
sofar as national economic development permits. Thn 
Ministry of Labor administers national labor legli- 
lotion which, during the last two decades, has estab- 
lished definite standards as to hours, wages, and re- 
lated matters. Normal working hours are eight houri 
a day or 48 hours per week, with a weekly rest period 
of 24 hours and annual paid vacations of 15 dayi 
per full year of service. Minimum wages arc alio 
fixed by law. Strikes and lockouts may be legal or 
illegal, depending upon conditions prescribed by law, 
Arbitration and conciliation procedures are under tho 
supervision of the Ministry of Labor, which is charged 
with coordinating all activities relating to labor. 

Social Welfare 

Social welfare was primarily the concern of privalo 
organizations and church groups until the Haitian So- 
cial Security Institute was established by law in 1949. 



The Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare ad- 
ministers national programs and legislation. Accord- 
ing to law, the following classes of workers are covered 
by social security: (a) employees and officials of the 
state and of agencies controlled by the state; (b) em- 
ployees, workers, and day laborers in agricultural, in- 
dustrial, and commercial enterprises and, in general, 
any manual or intellectual worker who renders serv- 
ices, for remuneration, to an employer by virtue of an 
express or tacit labor contract; (c) teachers and super- 
visors in private educational establishments; and (d) 
domestic servants paid in kind or in money. 

The law further declares that social security is com- 
pulsory and that all employers must maintain a register 
of workers and their wages. The principal benefits in 
effect at present ore limited to occupational accidents, 
disability, and death. Not in effect as yet are bene- 
fits for illness and maternity. The law does not provide 
for unemployment insurance, retirement and pensions 
(except for government employees under certain con- 
ditions), or old age benefits. There is a legal require- 

Model of a native caille on the 
Bicentennial Exposition grounds 

ment that every employer, whether an individual or ■ 
company, employing more than TOO worker*, U re- 
quired to maintain a dispensary headed by a IkilthiM 
physician and equipped to provide first aid to vie llini 
of accidents and to protect the health of the workari, 


Substandard and unsanitary housing is one of HolH'i 
most serious problems, afFecting the lives and hsolth 
of on estimated two-thtrds of the population. Among 
the low-cost housing projects constructed in recent 
years are Cite Vincent, Cite Magloire, and Cif6 Do- 
valier in Port-au-Prince, and Cite Lescot in Cap Haition. 
Additional new housing projects are underway in the 
capital, GanaTves, and Anse-a-Veau. 

There is increasing emphasis on community develop- 
ment in Haiti and fellowships for study and training 
in this field have been granted to Haitians under the 
OAS Fellowship Program. Community development is 
one of the major projects in the 1 0-year plan for 
Haiti's economic and social betterment contemplated 
under the Alliance for Progress. 


The cooperative movement is gaining headway, al- 
though it is not widespread. Most successful and prom- 
ising of the cooperatives are the 30 credit unions now 
functioning. There are also five agricultural co-ops 
and two production and service co-ops. 

Economic Growth 

The Haitian economy, predominantly agricultural to- 
day as in the past, reached the peak of its prosperity 
during the colonial period and began to decline after 
the revolution, which destroyed the wealth-producing 
sugar plantations and the fine irrigation systems es- 
tablished by the French. With independence camo a 
complete transformation of the colonial economic 
system from one of vast plantations worked by slave 
labor to a national economy, in which the plantations 
were broken up into thousands of small, individually- 
owned farms. 

During the lost century and a half, Haiti has been 



Tltllnii yHuitH 
•wgnr ihiib 

Agriculture and Livestock 

unable to attain, or even approximate, the great pros- 
perity of the colonial period; this is due to several 
reasons. The country's basic export crops— coffee, 
sugar, cacao, and more recently sisal— cannot be 
raised profitably on the small, individual farms which 
average under three acres each; fev/ exceed 30 acres. 
The majority of peasants can grow only enough food 
to live on. Farm implements and methods are, with 
few exceptions, primitive. The area of tillable land, 
limited by Haitian topography to about one third of 
the national territory, has been further reduced by the 
pressure of a steadily increasing population. Thus as 
subsistence farming increases, the production of com- 
mercial crops for export declines. 

Haiti's traditional economic dependence upon agri- 
cultural exports now fails to provide sufficient na- 
tional income. However, the country has valuable re- 
sources that have not as yet been developed or ex- 
ploited on a commercial scale. These include min- 
erals and petroleum, forest products, and an abund- 
ance of fish in rivers and offshore waters. 

Agriculture and Livestock 

Haiti was one of the first areas in the New World to 
produce sugar cane, cacao, and coffee-the three crops 
that have contributed the most to the country's economic 
growth during the last four and a half centuries. Co- 
lumbus brought sugar cane to Hispaniola on his second 
voyage, and this product was the greatest single source 
of wealth until France lost her prized colony. Com- 
mercial cultivation was not resumed until about 30 
years ago, and today sugar ranks third among the 
principal export crops, after coffee and sisal. The 
output of raw sugar has increased substantially in 
recent years. 

Coffee, introduced into Haiti by Jesuit priests in the 
early part of the eighteenth century, is now the lead- 
ing export crop, although exports have declined sharp- 
ly since 1954. Haitian coffee is a mild type known as 
coffeo arabica; it has an excellent flavor and com- 
mands a premium price when properly processed. The 
Haitian Government has taken various measures to 

There are all sorts of 
delicious tropical fruit in Haiti 

improve processing methods and to encourage the 
modernization of plants by granting special benefits. 
Since 1925,, the National Agricultural Production Serv- 
ice has subsidized plantings of selected coffee seed- 
lings in order to improve the quality of the product. 
The four principal coffee-growing regions are located 
on mountain slopes or hillsides, at an altitude of 
about 1,500 feet above sea level. The total area of 
roughly 400,000 acres consists chiefly of small, in- 
dividually-owned farms. Much of the coffee grows 
wild or semi-wild and is harvested by peasant farm- 
ers. There are few plantations of more than 50 acres. 
Although Haiti's cacao production is small in terms 
of world supply, it has been an important export 
commodity since early colonial days and usually ranks 
fourth among the country's exports. Most of the cacao 
is grown by peasants on small farms. Production since 
World War II has fluctuated at between three and 
four million pounds a year, of which about two mil- 
lion pounds were exported. A rehabilitation extension 
program initiated by the Haitian Government is ex- 
pected to increase future production. 


^o Haiti's second most important export commodity (after 
coffee) is sisal, the raw vegetable fiber used ex- 
tensively in binder twine. The main producing region 
is along the northern coast, to the east of Cap-Haitien, 
where the principal processing factory is located. Sisal 
is grown chiefly on large plantations. 

Bananas have been an important product ever since 
the first banana roots were planted in Hispanioia by 
Friar Tomas de Berlanga, a Spanish priest who brought 
them from the Canary Islands in 1516. Haitian pro- 
duction has declined during the last decade, due to 
diseases and unfavorable weather, while Increased 
domestic consumption has reduced the supply availa- 
ble for export. 

Other commercial crops that figure in Haiti's foreign 
trade are cotton, castor beans, and the grasses and 
plants from which essential oils are derived. Haitian 
cotton plants attain tree-like proportions. The quality 
of its staple, as a result of selective breeding carried 
on by the Agricultural Service of the Haitian Govern- 
ment, compares favorably with the variety known in the 
United States as Sea Island. The cotton is ginned be- 
fore export, and part of the cottonseed thus obtained 

is used by small domestic plants manufacturing iea|l» 
cooking oil, and lard substitutes; tho remainder li tM- 
ported. Residual cottonseed cake, a voluobl© fertil- 
izer and stockfeed, is also exported. The •iicnilal 
oils include oil of omyris, citron, lemon groii, nAroll, 
petit-grain, and vetiver. 

The principal food crops for domestic consumption ar» 
rice, corn, sweet potatoes, beans, and a wide variety 
of other vegetables, fruits, and roots; of the latter, 
the manioc plant (cassava) supplies the Haitians with 
their bread staple. 

Agricultural development, irrigation, and improved farm- 
ing methods have been extended considerably during 
the last two decades by two cooperative agencies 
known as SCIPA and SHADA, established by the gov- 
ernments of Haiti and the United States. SHADA (So- 
ciete Haitiano-Americaine de Developpement Agricole) 
began in 1941 to develop important agricultural re- 
sources, notably sisal, essential oils, cacao, fruits, and 
spices; lumber and rubber development also form part 
of the SHADA program. 

The Inter-American Cooperative Service of Agricul- 
tural Production (SCIPA) concentrates mainly on irri- 
gation and agricultural extension work. Irrigation proj- 
ects completed at Fonds Parisien, St. Raphael, and 
Villard supply water for some 12,000 acres. The 
government's most ambitious undertaking is the Arti- 
bonite Valley project, which has been moving ahead 
with technical and financial aid from the United States. 
Upon its completion, this project will irrigate roughly 
85,000 acres of land and will furnish electric power 
to a large part of the country. 

Since 1952, much-needed loans and credits have bean 
provided to hundreds of small farmers by the Haitian 
Institute of Farm and Industrial Credit through tho 
National Bank of the Haitian Republic, for the pur- 
pose of stimulating increased production of foodstuffs 
and of items generally imported. The Institute's func- 
tions were broadened in 1961, when the name of tho 
Agricultural and Industrial Development Institute was 
adopted. This agency is administering a loan of $3,- 
500,000 granted to the National Bank by the Inter- 


MliiariiU nriil l*»trol«um 

Amnrlcan DfV«lepm«nt Bank for both agricultural and 
Induilrlal •xpanilon. 

Llv0ilock It raised on a small scale and cattle, hogs, 
and chickens are used for domestic requirements. Na- 
•lv« ilocks are being improved by cross-breeding with 
liiiport«d animals. Two major stock-feeding centers were 
■itobliihed in 1959 at Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien 
and, more recently, a new slaughter house. Improve- 
m»nti In animal husbandry are being made under the 
dlrwcHon of the government's Central School of Agri- 
culture at Damien. 


Haitian industry, in the past primarily devoted to the 

ftrocMsing of agricultural and forest products, is branch- 
ng out with the manufacture of more corisumer goods. 
Th« processing of sugar and sisal continue to be the 
chief industrial activities, both of which are expanding. 
Haiti's largest sugar mill, on the outskirts of the capital, 
produces raw and refined sugar, molasses, rum, and 
alcohol. Another large sugar refinery being built in 
fh« north, with financial assistance from the United 
States Development Loan Fund, will have an esti- 
mated capacity of 40,000 metric tons of sugar a year. 
The same lending agency granted credits to help ex- 
pand a sisal plantation and processing factory. 

Native cotton provides the basis for an expanding 
textile industry concentrated in Port-au-Prince; im- 
portant by-products include cottonseed cake, meal, 
and oil. Other industries producing for domestic con- 
lumption are tanneries, corn and rice mills, and fac- 
tories manufacturing shoes, cigarettes, glass, soap, 
and chocolate. Rum and alcohol are produced by 
numerous local distilleries. Newer industries include 
iho manufacture of aluminum and enamelware, gar- 
ments and hats, essential oils, cement, and plastics; 
there is a new canning factory. Further industrial ex- 

f>ansion will be facilitated by the new dam and 
lydroelectric plant at Peligre on the Artibonite River, 
which is expected to double the present installed ca- 
pacity of 26,000 kwh. now produced by thermal 
plants using imported fuel oil. 
The production of handicrafts constitutes a small but 

Skillful hands fashion original straw handicrafts 

growing industry, in which hundreds of individual 
craftsmen and shop workers are engaged. This "petite 
industrie" produces a wide variety of artistic and use- 
ful articles made chiefly from mahogany, sisal, and 
straw, valued in excess of five million dollars a year 
in terms of wholesale exports. Haitian craftsmen are 
particularly skilled in woodcarving, weaving, drawn- 
work, and embroidery; and their products have a good 
foreign market. 

Minerals and Petroleum 

A beginning has been made in recent years in de- 
veloping Haiti's mineral resources, chief of which are 
bauxite, copper, manganese, lignite, and petroleum. 
There are smaller deposits of gold, silver, iron, anti- 
mony, tin, sulphur, coal, nickel, gypsum, and porphry, 
most of them still awaiting exploitation. Private gold 
mining is permitted, but gold must be sold to the 
National Bank of the Republic. Subsoil rights belong to 
the state. The first exports of Haitian copper concen- 
trates were made in 1961 and a copper agreement was 
signed with a Canadian firm, A copper recovery plant 


IS located at Terre Neuve. A United States com- 
pany IS reported to have found oil in the Cul-de-Sac 
region. Exploration and drilling have also been under- 
taken in the Central Plateau and Gonave Island. 

Other Resources 

Haiti's forest resources consist of 150,000 acres of ex- 
cellent pine, having a high content of turpentine and 
rosm, and major stands of mahogany, logwood, tropi- 
cal oak, cedar, rosewood, and taverneau. Lignum vitae 
IS found on Gonave Island and the northwest mainland. 
The most accessible forest areas have been heavily 
exploited, particularly the logwood and pine forests, 
which provide a large quantity of lumber for export. 
Lumber production has declined in recent years due to 
deforestation, continuous cutting and stripping to make 
charcoal and provide firewood, and diseases. The proc- 
essing of turpentine and rosin are importairt industries. 

An important resource as yet undeveloped on a com- 
mercial scale is fishing. The offshore waters abound 
in tuna, morlin, bonito, tarpon, bass, and rock lobster. 
However, Haitian fishermen seldom venture more than 
a few miles from their home ports because they lack 
modern deep-sea fishing boats and equipment. The 
total annual catch, estimated at four to five million 
pounds, is caught with the simplest type of fishing 
gear. Inland waters also contain an abundance of 
good fish. 

foreign Trade 

Haiti's export trade, which is vital to the national 
economy, consists primarily of agricultural products. 
Coffee exports exceed all others in value, repre- 
senting roughly 63 per cent of total export earnings. 
Sisal and raw sugar (together with molasses) rank 
second and third, followed by cacao. Other export 
commodities of lesser value include castor beans, 
essential oils, sisal shoes, tomatoes, lumber, mahogany 
products, and handicrafts. The chief imports in order 
of value are the following categories: food, bev- 
erages, wheat flour, and tobacco; textile yarns and 
fabrics; chemicals; iron, steel, and other metal manu- 
factures; fuels; motor vehicles; machinery; pharma- 

OtKtr RoiourtM 

Foreign Trail* 

Banking and Public Financ* 

ceutical products; and household goods. The UnlfocI 
States IS Haiti's principal trading partner, its purchasoi 
representing normally from 65 to 70 per cent of the 
total value of Haitian exports, and its sales amount- 
ing in value to 40 to 50 per cent of total imports. 

Haiti maintained a favorable balance of trade durinq 
the decade 1941-51. However, the trade balance hat 
been unfavorable during most of the last decade This 
situation is due primarily to the drop in prices for 
Haiti s export products. The total value of the coun- 
1*^^/0 ^''°^® ^""^ ^^^" declining in recent years; in 
I960 it amounted to $70,000,000, of which imports 
represented $38,000,000 and exports, $32 000 000 
leaving a trade deficit of $6,000,000. Haiti maintains 
a relatively high tariff on exports (10 per cent ad 
valorem) and imports (30 per cent ad valorem). 

Banking and Public Finance 

The National Bank of Haiti (Banque Nationale de la 
Republique d'Haiti) is the sole bank of issue and serves 
as treasurer of the government, fiscal agent for de- 
velopment and other loans, and as a commercial bank- 
it has branches in the capital and the major cities and 
towns of the provinces. The Royal Bank of Canada en- 
gages mainly in foreign trade operations. The Banque 
Colombo and the Banque Commerciale d'Haiti are 
savings and loan institutions; all three are located in 
Port-au-Prince. Haiti is a member of the International 
Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) 
and the Inter-American Development Bank. 

The basic monetary unit of Haiti is the gourde ex- 
changeable at the legal rate of five gourdes to' one 
dollar (U.S.). This rate is based on the Haitian-United 
States Monetary Convention of 1919, which pegged 
the currency at five gourdes to the dollar. The gourde 
contains 100 centimes, issued in denominations of one 
two, five, ten, twenty, fifty, and one hundred paper 
notes. Fractional currency circulates in coins of 5, 10, 
20, and 50 centimes. There is no exchange control 
and no legal limit to the amount of foreign currency 
which may be taken in or out of Haiti. United States 
currency circulates freely. 



The Post Office, Port-au-Prince 

The government's chief source of revenue is customs 
duties, which amounted to 56 per cent of the total 
revenue for the fiscal year 1959-60. Taxes on produc- 
tion and consumption for the same period represented 
36 per cent of fiscal receipts, of v/hich 14 per cent 
consisted of taxes established to meet specific ex- 
penditures. Taxes on personal income constituted eight 
per cent of the government receipts. Until 1961, the 
tourist industry was an important source of national in- 
come and the second largest earner of foreign ex- 
change. However, since 1960, when tourists spent close 
to eight million dollars in Haiti, there has been a 
sharp decline in income from this source. 

To cope with Haiti's worsening economic situation. 
President Duvalier announced in the fall of 1959 an 
economic austerity program, increased taxes, and 
reforms in tax administration. The letter task was un- 
dertaken by the Haitian Government with technical 
assistance from the United States International Cooper- 
ation Administration (now the Agency for Interna- 


tional Development, AID). In mid-1961, the government 
requested the joint technical assistance of the UN 
Economic Commission for Latin America, the Organi- 
zation of American States, and the Inter-American 
Development Bank for a general survey of the coun- 
try's economy as a first step toward adoption of a 
program of economic and social development under 
the Alliance for Progress. To this end, a group of 
technicians and experts spent six months in Haiti, 
from November 1961 through April 1962. Meanwhile, 
the International Monetary Fund granted Haiti a 
standby credit of six million dollars to maintain mone- 
tary stability; and United States aid to Haiti during 
1961 amounted to around $12,500,000. Early in 1962, 
the Agency for International Development (AID) al- 
lotted $7,250,000 to the program of economic and 
technical assistance to Haiti for the purpose of helping 
to ease the country's foreign exchange problems and 
to increase national income through selected projects. 

Among important steps taken by the Haitian Govern- 
ment in 1961-62 were passage of a new income tax 
law raising the rate on personal income and corporate 
profits, and providing penalties for tax evaders; an 
increased excise tax on petroleum products; and con- 
solidation of taxes on coffee under a better system. 
Haiti's national budget for 1961-62 is equivalent to 
$30,400,000 (U.S.), an increase of close to four million 
dollars over the previous year. In January 1962, Presi- 
dent Duvalier announced a "Crusade for Economic 
Liberation" and the creation of a special council to 
formulate and activate a recovery program. 


Haiti is very adequately served by international airlines 
and steamship companies, but lacks good highways 
and railways for domestic transportation. Of the 12 
major seaports, Port-au-Prince ranks first in importance 
and Cap Haitien, second. There is direct steamship and 
airline service between the United States and other 
Western Hemisphere republics, also Europe. Four or 
more foreign airlines make scheduled stops at Haiti's 
international airport Bowen Field, on the outskirts of 
the capital. 




A highway under construction 

The country's domestic transport facilities consist of 
one state-owned railway, Compagnie Nationals des 
Chemins de Fer d'Haiti, running a distance of 90 miles 
between Port-au-Prince and the port of St. Marc, with 
a spur to the village of Verretes; one national airline, 
Compagnie Haitfenne de Transports Ariens, operated 
by the Haitian Aviation Corps, which flies passengers, 
rnail, and freight between the capital and the prin- 
cipal cities and ports; and approximately 2,000 miles 
of roads, most of them built in the 1920's and now in 
bad condition, except for those in the region of the 
capital. As a result, the transport of farm products 
to markets is difficult and costly, imposing a great 
handicap on agriculture, Haiti's chief source of live- 
lihood, and on the tourist industry. For the transport 
of sugar cane in the Cul-de-Sac, the Haitian-American 
Sugar Company operates a railway with a total track- 
age of less than 100 miles. Sisal raised in the Cap- 
HaTtien area is transported by a 74-miie railway 
maintained by SHADA. 

The National Ministry of Public Works, Transport, and 

Communications is engaged in a major highway im- 
provement and construction program that is receiving 
financial and technical assistance from the World 
Bank, the U.S. Development Loan Fund, and the U.S. 
Agency for International Development. According to 
estimates made in 1960, Haiti had 8,000 passenger 
automobiles, 2,000 buses, and 2,000 trucks in use. 
Coastal shipping supplements the railways and high- 
ways in transporting domestic produce. This is car- 
ried on by 300 or more schooners registered under the 
Haitian flag. 

The government owns and operates domestic tele- 
phone and telegraph communications. Plans for a new 
twelve-million-dollar telephone and telegraph system 
are currently under study. International telephone and 
telegraph service are provided by several companies. 
In addition to the government-operated radio station, 
there are 15 or more private commercial transmitters. 
Haiti's first television station was inaugurated early 
in 1960. It is owned and operated by a concessionaire. 
Tele Haiti, S.A., under a contract with the government. 



Entry Requirements 
International Travel 

Travel Within Haiti 

Currency and Prices 
Hotels and Restaurants 

Travel Information 

Entry requirements, customs regulations, and transpor- 
tation schedules are subject to change. Therefore, when 
planning a trip to Haiti, you should obtain the latest 
information from the nearest Haitian Consulate, a local 
travel agency, a steamship or airline company, the 
Haitian Government Tourist Bureau (Rockefeller Plaza, 
New York), or from the Inter-American Tourist Service 
of the Pan American Union.* 

Entry Requirements 

For a visit of 30 days or less (with an additional 30- 
day extension permitted), citizens of the United States 
and Canada are required to furnish a birth cer- 
tificate or similar documentary proof of citizenship; a 
smallpox vaccination certificate; and a round-trip 
ticket or transportation to another country. These docu- 
ments suffice for the issuance of a tourist card, costing 
two dollars, which is issued by the transportation com- 
44- pony or obtained immediately upon arrival. 

International Travel 

The principal steamship lines sailing from United States 
ports to Haiti (the chief port-of-call being Port-au- 
Prince) are the Alcoa Steamship Co., the Eastern 
Steamship Corporation, the Atlantic Cruise Line— all 
sailing from Florida ports— and the Lykes Line, sailing 
from Gulf ports. Other foreign steamship companies 
serving Haiti are the Grace Line, Royal Netherlands, 
and Panama Line. Many of these lines and other for- 
eign steamship companies feature special Caribbean 
cruises, which include Haiti, during the fall, winter, and 
spring seasons. Pan American Airways and Delta Air 
Lines provide scheduled service from the United States 
to Port-au-Prince. 

It is possible to motor from the Dominican Republic to 
Haiti by any one of three routes. The principal one 

* The Inter- American Tourisl Service of llie Pan American Union 
publishes the following: "Requirements for the Entry of U.S. Tourists 
into the Latin American Republics" (10 cents) and "Directory of 
Hotels— Centra! America, Panama, and the West Indies" (10 cents). 
Orders should be addressed to the Sales and Promotion Division, Pan 
American Union, Washington 6, D.C. 

connects Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince and is ci 
day's trip, depending upon the condition of the road. 
The northern route to Cap-HaTtien via Dajabon is quite 
good. The third route connects the capitals of the two 
countries via Belladere, Lascahobas, and Mirebalais. 

Travel Within Haiti 

The most interesting way to tour Haiti is by car, pro- 
vided the itinerary is over roads in good condition. Ar» 
automobile and chauffer may be hired by the hour, 
day, or week at reasonable rates. Taxis may be hired 
for short trips in the resort areas near the capital. Bus 
transportation is not recommended. Haiti's only domes- 
tic airline, Compagnie Haitienne de Transports Ariens 
(COHATA), maintains a passenger transport service, 
which makes scheduled and charter flights to the prin- 
cipal cities and ports. Tourists may bring their own 
cars into Haiti without the payment of duties or other 
fees, provided the vehicle is for personal use only. An 
extra container for gasoline and a complete tool kit 
are recommended, since service stations are few and 
far between. 

Currency and Prices 

As previously mentioned, the Haitian gourde (gde.) is 
equivalent to 20 cents U.S., or five to the dollar. United 
States currency is accepted throughout the country. 
The prices charged by hotels and restaurants catering 
to tourists in the capital and its environs are com- 
parable to those in the United States. In more distant 
cities and in rural areas, the level of prices is much 
lower. Port-au-Prince is a free port for a wide variety 
of imported merchandise, including perfume, crystal, 
china, watches, and other luxury items. 

Hotels and Restaurants 

Tourist hotels in and near the capital are famous for 
their good accommodations, service, and scenic sur- 
roundings. The older ones have a French atmosphere, as 
well as architecture, and a special charm. The newest 
ones are ultra-modern, having swimming pools and 
other attractions. There are some good pensions, 
charging lower rates. A ten per cent service charge 
is added to the regular rates. 


A beautiful view of Port-au-Prince 
from Le Perhoir Restaurant 

Haiti's Afro-French cuisine is noted for Its distinctive 
recipes and the subtle flavors imparted by native herbs. 
You can make many appetizing discoveries in Creole 
cookery, if you will order some of the follov/ing dishes 
best-known by their Creole names: the national dish of 
rice ond beans is po/s ac duriz colles; grillot cochon 
avec banane pesee is pork chop, specially prepared 
with pimentos and lemon and served with bananas; 
tassot avec sauce pimentee is salted, drief beef served 
in a special sauce; hareng saure ac z'abocaf avec 
cassave mouillee is a special preparation of dried fish, 
avocado and cassava (manioc). In addition, you will 
enjoy riz aux champignons (rice and mushrooms), and 

Suitable Clothing 

a wonderful stew called gros bouillon poulet. Be sure 
to try a salad prepared with the tasty shoots of the 
palmiste (palmetto tree). Seafood is delicious and 
plentiful, including rock lobster, shrimp, land-crabs, and 
sea turtles. Among the tempting desserts are cocoanut 
ice cream, sweet potato pudding, and all sort of 
confitures (fruit preserves). The French cuisine of the 
leading restaurants and night clubs is superb. Among 
the native fruits that may be new to you are guava, 
sapodilla, star apple, and soursop. 


Tourists become enthusiastic shoppers when they dis- 
cover the variety of handicrafts that are sold in the 
shops and markets of the capital and principal cities. 
Hand-woven mats, baskets, hats, and trays are fash- 
ioned from gayly-colored straw. Strong durable sisal 
is used for attractive pocketbooks and sandals. Ma- 
hogany articles include highly polished salad sets, 
trays, and such larger items as coffee tables. Miscel- 
laneous items are carved from lignum vitae, rosewood, 
and other rare native woods. You will also find ex- 
quisite tortoise-shell articles, handmade lace, drawn- 
work, and embroidered pieces. 

In the workshop of the Centre d'Art (Port-au-Prince), 
skilled craftsmen specialize in unique enameled trays 
and table tops of original design; hand-painted boxes 
and screens, and linoleum block prints for Christmas 
cards. Voodoo drums, some of them masterpieces of 
painted decoration, make exclusive souvenirs. Creole 
recordings of voodoo songs, meringues, and native 
drum pieces are a unique addition to any record col- 
lection. It is amazing the number of things that can 
be made to order, including blouses, skirts, dresses, 
jackets, shoes, and furniture, all of high quality and 
at very reasonable prices. 

Suitable Clothing 

Light tropical clothing is worn throughout Haiti, except 
in the cooler highlands, where a woolen jacket, sweater, 
or topcoat is needed. A raincoat or umbrella is es- 
sential during the two rainy seasons (April through 
June, and October through November). 


TKis skillful 
craftsman is 
carving a fine 
mohogany article 




Areai 10,7H niiHirn ni 
Capitali I'm I iiu IMiicn 
Official lanuiiiiyn: ricMil 


Population: 3,539,000* 
Population: 200,000* 
Unit of currency: the gourde 
(equal to $.20 U.S.) 
Flag: the left half, next to iha Itaff, is black and the other half, red. On a rectangular field in the center is the national 

coat of arm* of lynibollc design. 
* Official eiliriuira, 196) 



Principal cities 


Quest (W#lt) 




Sud (South) 


Les Cayes 






Nord (North) 




Nord Ouest 





Population figures are not available at this writing for the four new departments created in 1962, named as follows: Nord Est (Northeast), 
»^tt •^^^"*'°'' ^""^ ^^* (Southeast), ond Grande Anse. These provinces do not appear on the map on page 2. 
Official Census of 1950, Haitian Statistical Institute 



(value in millions of gourdes) 





























(in millions of gourdes) 

Beginning October 1957, duty free imports are based on an official estimate. 

Source: International Monetary Fund. 
* Exports of coffee, sisal, and sugar. 

























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